JANUARY 14, 2010

Victims of helicopter crash recovering

   Two Idaho Fish and Game biologists and an Alaskan pilot are recuperating after a helicopter crash January 8, near Little Moose Creek on the north fork of the Clearwater River.

   On board were George Pauley, a wildlife biologist from Kamiah, Craig White, a biologist based in Boise, and Rick Swisher the owner and pilot of Quick Silver Air, Inc., of Fairbanks, AK. who has had more than 10,000 hours of accident-free flying.

   All three men sustained injuries and were transported to St. Patrick Hospital and Health Science Center in Missoula, MT. where they are recovering.

   Swisher’s wife, Sharon said, “Everybody walked away from it except him,” referring to her husband. According to The Daily Newsminer, Fairbanks, AK, “The pilot said he was about 400 feet above the ground when the engine in the helicopter quit.” He described the crash as a “controlled landing in rugged terrain.” Swisher stated that the helicopter is not a total loss and should be salvageable.

   Jim Unsworth, Deputy Director of the Department of Fish and Game, said
”Emergency crews were remarkably fast, and we are happy about that. The pilot has arm and back injuries,” said Unsworth, “and George and Craig have rib and back injuries. Right now, we are hoping all of them a speedy recovery and working with their families,” said Unsworth.

   The men were attempting to dart wolves, elk, and moose from a Hughes 500 helicopter so that the animals could be radio-collared for a research project on wolf predation. Unsworth said not all details are known at this time but, “It sounds like they lost power and were able to auto-rotate to land in the best spot they could in that situation which was on some ice near Little Moose Creek.”

   “The situation is being evaluated and flights were suspended temporarily for the department to review their safety procedures”

   According to Unsworth, flights resumed, Monday, January 11. “The guys responded the way they should have,” stated Unsworth.