7 employees of Portland-based helicopter co. die in Peru crash

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by KGW Staff and Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on January 8, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 8 at 2:18 PM

LIMA, Peru —Seven employees of Portland-based Columbia Helicopters were killed in a Monday crash in the Peru jungle.

Peruvian authorities say the heavy-lift chopper crashed Monday after taking off from the provincial capital of Pucallpa. 

“This is a very sad day for Columbia Helicopters,” company president Michael Fahey said in a statement. “We may operate globally, but we are still very much a family. The loss of our employees hurts deeply, and I knew most of these men personally. Our employees are grieving, and we are praying for the family members of the friends we lost.”

He identified the helicopter as a Boeing Model 234 tandem rotor, the civilian version of the miltary Chinook.  No passengers were on the chopper, which was involved in supporting petroleum explorations.

He said a team of company investigators has gone to Peru to work closely with authorities and witnesses.

Local police official Miguel Cardoso said Tuesday morning that three bodies have been so far been recovered. He says it appears all jumped from the chopper.

Fahey identified the employees who died as:

Dann Immel, Command Pilot (hometown: Gig Harbor, WA)
Igor Castillo, Copilot (Peru)
Edwin Cordova, Maintenance Crew Chief (Melbourne, FL)
Luis Ramos, Aircraft Mechanic (Peru)
Jaime Pickett, Aircraft Mechanic (Clarksville, TN)
Darrel Birkes, Senior Load Manager (Peru)
Leon Bradford, Load Manager (Santaquin, UT)

 

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