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Three Killed in Newport Beach Helicopter Crash

Three people were killed and two others were injured in a helicopter crash in Newport Beach Tuesday, Jan. 30, after a helicopter crashed into a home in a neighborhood not far away from John Wayne Airport. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the Orange County Coroner identified the deceased as Joseph Anthony Tena, 60, of Newport Beach, who was the pilot, and Kimberly Lynne Watzman, 45, of Santa Monica, and Brian R. Reichelt, 56, of Hollywood, Fla., who were both passengers.

Tragic, Fatal Crash

Officials say the Robinson R44 helicopter was traveling to Catalina Island and did not send a distress signal shortly after taking off from John Wayne Airport. The Register reports that Tena was a manager and partner for Umbral Services, a Newport Beach company affiliated with Revolution Aviation, the company that leased the helicopter. Another passenger in the helicopter and a person on the ground, who neighbors say was a worker in the area, were injured. Officials have not released their names. The cause of the crash remains unknown. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the collision.

Our deepest condolences go out to the family members of those who were killed in this tragic crash. We also wish the injured victims the very best for a speedy and complete recovery. Please keep those affected in your thoughts and prayers.

Helicopter Crashes

In this particular case, it will be important to look into whether a defective part caused the helicopter to spin out of control and crash or whether a malfunction occurred. NTSB investigations can usually take several months to be completed. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there were 106 helicopter accidents in 2016 including 17 fatal accidents. That is a 12 percent decrease compared to the previous year and a 27 percent decrease compared to 2013.

Despite these promising numbers, it is important to remember that helicopters are far more vulnerable than airplanes. They fly lower to the ground, at about 12,000 feet, which makes them more likely to encounter buildings or hills, particularly in foggy conditions. A vast majority of accidents, as with any kind of aircraft, occur during takeoffs and landings.

Helicopters also have a lot more moving parts compared to airplanes. They have a main rotor, a tail rotor, a gearbox and a drive shaft running the entire length of the aircraft. Therefore, a lot more things could potentially malfunction. If any one of those parts fails, the chopper could spin out of control. Helicopters are also more vulnerable in inclement weather conditions.

As Newport Beach personal injury attorneys who are located not far from this accident scene, this one hits close to home. We will be following this investigation closely and hope victims and their families have the emotional support they need to get through this challenging and turbulent time.


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