On Saturday, March 19, 2022, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter crashed in Angeles Crest near the San Gabriel Reservoir while attempting to land. Six people aboard the LASD Air Rescue 5 helicopter sustained injuries.
According to media reports, the chopper went down near East Fork Road and State Route 39 in Angeles National Forest shortly before 5:00 p.m. local time. After hitting the ground, the helicopter reportedly rolled over and nearly slid down hundreds of feet into a canyon. The helicopter was assisting the Los Angeles County Fire Department in transporting a patient injured in a rollover accident. The car accident victim was not on the helicopter when it went down.
Five deputies and a doctor from the University of California Los Angeles, who was a ride-along passenger, sustained injuries in the helicopter crash. All six were airlifted to Pomona Valley Medical Center with injuries ranging from bone fractures and broken ribs. The helicopter pilot was listed in critical condition at the hospital. Two victims were listed in moderate condition and another two reported minor injuries. KTLA reports that two of the victims were released from the hospital the day after the crash.
At a press conference, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that while the cause of the crash is under investigation, the “helicopter suffered some malfunction of some sort.”
“We don’t know if it was mechanical, environmental, what they call a brownout, a wind change, but as they were trying to descend … they suffered a hard landing and a rollover,” Sheriff Villanueva added.
The helicopter that crashed is a Eurocopter AS332 L1 Super Puma. LASD has been using Super Pumas since 2012. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the cause of the LA County Sheriff helicopter crash.
What Caused the LASD Helicopter Crash?
Helicopter crash investigations generally take a year or more to complete. A preliminary report on the NTSB’s initial findings will shed some light on potential cause or contributing factors to the LASD Air Rescue 5 helicopter crash. However, we will not know what the official cause of the crash is until NTSB completes the investigation and issues a final report.
In addition to the cause (or causes) of the crash, the agency will make any applicable safety recommendations aimed at preventing similar accidents from happening again.
According to helicopter crash lawyer Ronald L. M. Goldman, who has decades of experience in aviation accident litigation, “it appears this was a somewhat controlled crash; perhaps a successful autorotation, but a hard landing and roll-over due to terrain. He adds that while the investigation is in the early stages and evidence is still being gathered, “I doubt this is a pilot error case.”
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The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers from the Baum Hedlund law firm have a proven track record in cases involving defective design, mechanical failure, maintenance failure, and operator error. We know what it takes to earn full and fair compensation for crash victims. Since opening our doors in 1973, we have won more than half a billion for aviation accident victims. Across all areas of practice, we have obtained more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements.
Our accident attorneys have decades of experience investigating helicopter crashes, identifying responsible parties, and holding them accountable in court. Based in Los Angeles, our firm regularly works side-by-side with the best aviation experts in the country to find the answers that crash victims and their families need and deserve.
Proven Attorneys, Dedicated Safety Advocates
One thing that sets Baum Hedlund apart is that we not only work tirelessly to earn compensation for clients, we also make it our mission to improve helicopter safety by shining a light on bad business practices. One of our helicopter cases that best exemplifies our advocacy was a helicopter air ambulance case that culminated with changes to aviation law that help keep people safe.
The case involved a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter that was picking up and transporting a girl who was badly injured in a car accident. While the helicopter was flying to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, the tail rotor fractured and broke apart, which caused the chopper to crash in Griffith Park. The injured girl was killed along with three paramedics.
During litigation, our attorneys discovered that the helicopter company had previously known about an issue with the helicopter’s tail rotor and had notified the military to change the helicopter’s maximum flight time. However, the company did not notify civil aviation. Our firm argued that a life is a life and that where the identical part is used in both civil and military aircraft, the helicopter manufacturer must notify the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of a parts failure even if the failure occurs in a military aircraft. An Appeals Court agreed with our argument. The result: a change in the law wherein helicopter companies can no longer hide dangerous parts from the FAA and operators of aircraft. This allows for remedial action not otherwise possible.
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