GRAND LAKE, LA (KPLC) - Three people are dead following a helicopter crash near the Calcasieu-Cameron Parish line late Friday morning.
It happened in an unpopulated area approximately five miles southeast of the Lake Charles Regional Airport at about 11:45 a.m. Friday.
Cameron Parish authorities identified the victims late Friday afternoon.
According to Sheriff Ron Johnson with the Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office, the deceased are as follows:
William R. Croucher, 69, of California. He was the pilot of the aircraft.
Michael Lee Tyree, 55, of Iowa, La. He was a mechanic with Era Helicopters.
Timothy Lloyd Goehring, 41, of Sulphur. He was a mechanic with Era Helicopters.
"We deeply regret this unfortunate accident and we will use all of our resources to support the families of those involved. Our review will continue in concert with the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which has jurisdiction over this matter," said Era Helicopters CEO, Sten Gustafson.
Investigators were at the site throughout the weekend. The Federal Aviation Administration has taken over the investigation, which will be led by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The crash site is near Tom Hebert and Helms Roads. north of Grand Lake. KPLC is told that the site has been cleared.
Keith Holloway of the NTSB Public Affairs Office commented over the weekend.
"The NTSB is continuing to collect information regarding this accident. So far, investigators have documented scene and examined the aircraft. There are no new details regarding the investigation at this time," Holloway said. "As you may know, the NTSB does not determine cause at this early stage in an investigation. The information that is gathered will be analyzed and help to determine cause at some point. Many of the NTSB's investigations can take about 12 -18 months to complete. I do suspect that there will be a preliminary report available on our website in about 10 days. This report will be factual in nature only."
Lynn Lunsford, Mid-States Public Affairs Manager at the FAA, identified the aircraft as a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, tail number N574EH, that was based at the Lake Charles Regional Airport.
Timothy O'Leary with Era helicopters said the helicopter had been on a maintenance test flight for approximately 30 minutes when it crashed.
According to Flightaware.com's database, the helicopter was a 1990 Sikorsky S-76 A Rotorcraft with 14 seats and two engines.
According to its website, Era Helicopters operates over 170 helicopters in support of offshore oil and gas transport, air medical services, search and rescue operations (SAR), firefighting, flightseeing, and disaster relief efforts. The company has a training center located at its Lake Charles headquarters.