Crash Victims Identified

February 13, 2007
Reported by Rhonda Kitchens

Officials with ERA Helicopters LLC say the bodies of 46-year-old John Lancaster of Denver, Colorado and 33-year-old David Thibodeaux of Abbeville were recovered around 10-30 Monday night.

"What we do know," says spokesperson, Greg Beuerman, "is the helicopter was returning to the platform located in Vermilion block 200."

Beuerman says, it was a routine flight about 65-miles south of Intracoastal City.

"There were no transmissions that we're aware of from the helicopter that would indicate any kind of problem."

But around 8:15 Monday morning, Beuerman says, the trip between two platforms took a tragic turn.

"It some point of the approach to the platform something happened, obviously. It may have been that the helicopter in some form or another struck the platform we really don't know. The helicopter is equipped with what we call a pinger device which basically is something that allows you to identify where a noise is coming from so that's how we were able to recover the helicopter from the gulf floor."

Now it becomes the task of the U-S Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration to learn just where things went wrong.

"There will be other agencies involved as well," says Beuerman, "the primary focus will be on what happened and why. There were no witnesses to the accident so the investigation itself will be what we rely on to determine the cause of the accident. Our challenge, of course, now is to help the families of the victims and to try to determine what happened with the aircraft so that we can make sure that this type of thing does not happen again."

The pilot, John Lancaster, was employed by ERA. David Thibodeaux was a contract employee of Wood Group Production Services, out of Houma.