Two Killed in KOMO News Copter Crash; One Man Critically Burned

Above: Bill Strothman

UPDATE (11:42): The victims in the helicopter crash have been revealed as KOMO's Bill Strothman and Gary Pfitzner. Strothman, who won 13 Emmy's during his long career at KOMO, had retired and was working as a free-lancer. Pfitzner was the helicopter's pilot.

At a press conference, Mayor Ed Murray said he met with Strothner's family soon after the crash, realizing he knew the deceased after recognizing his son at the scene.

"At times like this we are reminded that the media too are public servants" Murray said.

The bodies have reportedly been removed from the scene, but the Space Needle, EMP and the Monorail will remain closed for the day.

Seattle Public Utilities has dumped 10 tons of sand to absorb the leaked fuel from the copter crash. The NTSB will secure the area around the crash for 3-5 days for a federal investigation. The city will be reviewing its helipad policies following the investigation, and will be looking into whether or now the KOMO helipad was permitted or "grandfathered in." In the 1980s, Seattle changed helipad regulations, restricting them only to media and medical use.


UPDATE (10:07 A.M.): A man who fled the scene from his pickup truck directly after the crash has been located and is uninjured.

UPDATE (9:27 A.M.): The 38-year-old man injured in his car is reportedly being assessed at Harborview now and has burns on 50 percent of his body.

A KOMO news helicopter crashed near the Space Needle this morning, killing the two occupants inside and sending one man in a car to Harborview with serious injuries.

Here is the KOMO News story:

Two people were killed and one was critically injured when the KOMO News helicopter crashed and burned on takeoff Tuesday morning on Broad Street only yards away from the Space Needle.

Emergency personnel immediately rushed to the scene.

Three vehicles were struck in the crash. Witnesses said a man could be seen running from from one car with his sleeve on fire, and he was extinguished by officers at the scene.

Huge flames and plumes of black smoke poured from the burning wreckage, about 50 yards from the base of the Space Needle. Fuel gushing from the wreckage caught fire and burned for a block from the crash scene.

The Seattle Fire Department said two people were found dead in the wreckage.

A third person who was in one of the vehicles was rushed to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of critical injuries.

Witnesses said the helicopter crashed as it was taking off from the roof of Fisher Plaza, across the street from the Space Needle.

“It looked like the helicopter was trying to take off, and it just was trying to stabilize and it looked odd ... and it just took a nose dive right down there on the street,” said one eyewitness. “And the scary thing about was the gas from the helicopter started leaking and it caught a car or two on fire - so it’s crazy.”

Fire crews were able to extinguish the flames within a half-hour. Traffic was diverted from the area.

Seattle Weekly will be updating the story throughout the day.

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