Monroe, NC Helicopter Crashes, May 1998


Monroe, N.C. (AP) -- Investigators examined the wreckage of a helicopter to determine why it was flying low enough to strike a power line Monday, crashing on a highway and killing all five people on board.
The helicopter should have been flying at about 500 feet, more than three times the height of the wire,said Butch Wilson, lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
"He could have been trying to make an emergecy landing," he said.
The helicopter missed traffice on U.S. 74 which is used by vacationers traveling between Charlotte and beaches in North Carolina and South Carolina.
"It's a wonder that there was no motor vehicles involved. Cars were drivin by while it was coming down on the highway," said Sheriff Frank McGuirt.
Pilot JOHN THOMAS ELLIOTT, 49, was transporting passengers to the Monroe Airport after Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 Winston Cup race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway about 30 miles away. The stock car race ended about two hours before the crash.
The airport is a few miles from where the helicopter went down.
Also killed were passengers CRAIG GOODMAN RUDOLPH, 37; ALEXANDRA JOHANNA SCHIFFERS, 30; KEVIN DADEY, 25, and his wife, PAMELA DADEY, 26, all from Charlotte.
To avoid getting stuck in traffic jams, some racing fans like to take advantage of the steady stream of helicopters that offer shuttle service to and from the track on race days.
The crash closed the highway in both directions for several hours. One of the westbound lanes, which will carry thousands of vacationers back from the beaches later Monday,was open by dawn.
Weather was not a factor, Wilson said. Fog, which eventually became quite thick, was just starting to form around the time of the crash.
The helicopter was owned by US Helicopters Inc., a rental company in Marshville. Repeated calls to the company were not returned.

Chronicle Telegram Elyria Ohio 1998-05-26