The four-man crew aboard a 1981 Aerospatiale AS355F2 Twin Squirrel were forced to jump for their lives October 30 after their helicopter became entangled with power lines and caught fire while the crew was installing pulleys for installing of fiber-optic cable. Two crew members did not survive.
The accident happened at 4:16 p.m. in rural Beekmantown in northeast upstate New York, 20 miles south of the Canadian border. The aircraft was owned by Catalyst Aviation of Hammonton, New Jersey and was flying a mission for the New York Power Authority.
The two surviving crewmembers were employed by a contractor of the authority, Northline Utilities. They were treated and released at a local hospital. Witnesses at the scene estimated the distance from the burning helicopter to the ground at 40 feet. The bulk of the burning wreckage fell to the ground within minutes after the crew jumped, but hours after the crash, local news photos showed the fiber-optic pulleys and the helicopter’s skid gear still entangled in the power lines.