Preliminary Report Issued In Lewes Firefighters Death

firefighter Tim McClanahan
Lewes Firefighter Tim McClanahan

The NTSB has issued it’s preliminary report in the death of Tim McClanahan. McClanahan,  a Lewes firefighter, fell from the Delaware State Police helicopter during a Georgetown training session in July.

 Accident occurred Monday, July 11, 2016 in Georgetown, DE
Aircraft: BELL 429, registration: N1SP
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 11, 2016, about 6:50 p.m., a hoist system operator was fatally injured after a fall from a Bell 429 helicopter, N1SP, while performing external hoist operations in Georgetown, Delaware. The commercial pilot and two other crew members were not injured and the helicopter was not damaged. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local public-use flight operated by the Delaware State Police.

The purpose of the flight was for an emergency response team to complete recurrent rescue hoist training. The three-person team consisted of a rescue specialist, a system operator, and a safety officer. After the rescue specialist was lowered from the helicopter, the helicopter landed, and the rescue specialist would then reboard the helicopter.

The team members periodically rotated positions and duties, and a different team member would then be lowered as the rescue specialist. The security of each member’s safety harness was checked before each takeoff.

The accident flight was the seventh iteration of the day, and the first flight where the fatally injured crewmember acted as the system operator. After the restraints were checked and verified secure, the helicopter lifted off the ground, moved to the practice area, and then the system operator requested and was granted permission to move to the helicopter skid. The system operator stepped onto the skid, and then fell from the helicopter.

The pilot landed the helicopter immediately and the rescue specialist and safety officer initiated patient care on the system operator.

The hook and restraint system were retained for further examination.

Image Credits: Lewes Fire Department

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