Bayou Penchant, LA Helicopter Crash, Jan 2009
NAMES OF HELICOPTER CRASH VICTIMS RELEASED.
Houma, Louisiana - Eight people were killed and one injured after a helicopter carrying oilfield workers crashed Sunday afternoon in a marshy area of west Terrebonne
near Bayou Penchant.
Search crews scoured the area by airboat to retrieve the victims' bodies, all of which were located early this morning.
The company that owned the helicopter released the names of the deceased today.
The passengers killed were:
ALLEN BOUDREAUX, of Ama.
ANDREW MORICIO, of Morgan City.
EZEQUIEL CANTU, of Morgan City.
RANDY TARPLEY, of Jonesville, all of whom worked for Dynamic Industries.
CHARLES W. NELSON, of Pensacola, Fla.
JOREY A. RIVERO, of Bridge City, both of whom worked for MMR Offshore Services.
THOMAS E. BALLENGER, of Eufaula, Ala.
VYARL W. MARTIN, of Hurst, Texas, both of whom were pilots for Petroleum Helicopters.
Bourgeois said his office was waiting to hand over the investigation today to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The aircraft, owned by Lafayette-based Petroleum Helicopters Inc., carried nine passengers. The lone survivor, STEVEN YELTON, 28, was taken to Ochsner Medical Center in critical condition.
The U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Virginia picked up a distress signal from the helicopter at 3 p.m. and alerted the Coast Guard station in New Orleans, said Jaclyn Young, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard.
Officials aren't yet sure what caused the crash. State Wildlife and Fisheries agents, Terrebonne sheriff's deputies and local firefighters teamed to search for victims. A Coast Guard helicopter assisted.
The agencies used Bob's Bayou Black Marina as a command center, where boats gathered at midnight after more than four hours of searching.
The helicopter, scattered in pieces over the marsh, was partly submerged in a 50-yard area near Bayou Penchant and Turtle Bayou, crews said.
Four of the victims' bodies were trapped under a piece of the helicopter, and workers had to remove parts of the aircraft to get to them, a member of the search crew said.
The crew kept boats away from the aircraft's spilled fuel, which covered much of the marsh, they said, trying not to ignite it.
"I've seen helicopter crashes," said Maj. Tommy Odom of the Sheriff's Office Water Patrol, "but
not with this many people."
As the search wore on, the family of one passenger, ALLEN BOUDREAUX, JR., waited in the marina parking lot to learn whether he'd survived. A dense fog covered the marina as a pair of hearses arrived and, later, a priest.
"You hold out hope," said Barbara Bryant, BOUDREAUX'S mother from Ama in St. Charles Parish. "You think of the last times you saw him."
After learning the sole survivor was not her son, she and other relatives crouched and cried in the muddy parking lot.
BOUDREAUX, JR., also of Ama, was a welder employed by New Iberia-based
Dynamic Industries. He had just completed a course in water survival, she said. The helicopter
was headed for an oil platform after taking off from Amelia.
"He was smart, good at his job," said his sister, Kayla Boudreaux, 24, of New Orleans.
Gary Alford, senior investigator with the Terrebonne Coroner's Office, said YELTON suffered head trauma, abdominal injuries, facial and leg fractures and a collapsed lung.
All the passengers were carrying wallets and identification, Alford said. All wore inflatable vests, but it appeared that they had no time to use them, he said. "When it went down, it went down fast," he said. "They didn't have time."
The helicopter was a Sikorsky S76-C++, said Richard Rovinelli, a spokesman for PHI Inc.
Another type of helicopter owned by the company crashed June 8 near Huntsville, Texas, killing four passengers.
Since 2003, 13 people have died in helicopter crashes in Louisiana, the two most recent occurring in 2007 in Venice and Houston, according to board records.
Houma Today Louisiana 2009-01-05