Philadelphia news helicopter crashes in New Jersey, killing pilot, photographer

By6abc Digital Staff WPVI logo
Thursday, December 21, 2023
Pilot, photographer killed after Action News' Chopper 6 crashes in wooded area of New Jersey
An investigation is underway after Action News' helicopter Chopper 6 crashed in a wooded area of Burlington County, New Jersey on Tuesday night.

PHILADELPHIA -- An investigation is underway after a news helicopter crashed in New Jersey Tuesday night, killing two people onboard.

The helicopter belongs to WPVI's Action News, which is a sister station to this station.

Our latest coverage on the helicopter crash is here.

WPVI reports the pilot and photographer were in the helicopter when it went down in a wooded area of Burlington County while returning from an assignment at the Jersey Shore.

The names of the crew members have not been released as family members are still being notified about the crash. WPVI reports they have a long history with the station and have been working as part of the Action News team for years.

"Our hearts are just broken for these men. They're broken for their families," reporter Katherine Scott said during a report on Action News. "We just can't believe this has happened."

The crash happened sometime after 8 p.m. in the area of Quaker Bridge Atsion Road and Middle Road in Washington Township.

Officials give update after 2 crew members killed in Action News' Chopper 6 helicopter crash

New Jersey State Park Police said a debris field was located shortly after midnight a few hundred yards from Mullica River Road, in the area of Middle Road and Quaker Bridge Atsion Road.

The helicopter was last airborne over Wharton State Forest when it crashed.

The area is part of the New Jersey Pinelands, a million-acre wilderness area that stretches across more than seven counties and features dense woods, rivers and rare plant species.

"Due to the remote location of the scene and the limited visibility, it was determined at that point that the investigation would be suspended until sometime after daybreak," said Chief George Fedorczyk of the New Jersey State Park Police. "Know that our thoughts are with the pilots, their families and the media community."

A helicopter from a fellow Philadelphia television station captured video of the wreckage.

The National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the crash site at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday and took control of the investigation.

The helicopter was a 2013 American Eurocopter AS-350A-STAR, which 6abc leases from U.S. Helicopters Inc. based in North Carolina.

U.S. Helicopters Inc. has been in touch with the families.

It's still unclear what caused the crash.

How the NTSB will investigate the Chopper 6 crash

A spokesperson from the National Transportation Safety Board told Action News that investigators will begin the process of documenting the scene and examining the helicopter on Wednesday.

The helicopter will then be taken to a secure facility for evaluation.

"NTSB investigations involve three primary areas: the pilot, the aircraft and the operating environment," said spokesperson Jennifer Gabris.

The information and records the NTSB will examine include flight track data, air traffic control communications, maintenance records, weather conditions, the pilot's license and flight experience, a 72-hour background check of the pilot, witness statements, and potential information from electronic devices and any available surveillance video - including doorbell cameras.

"During the on-scene phase of the investigative process, the NTSB does not determine or speculate about the cause of the accident," Grabis said.

A preliminary report will be available within 30 days.

The first helicopter to serve as Chopper 6 launched in February of 1980. It was the first TV news helicopter in Philadelphia.