Two Idaho Fish and Game biologists and a pilot were killed in a helicopter crash yesterday. Larry Barrett and Dani Schiff were counting salmon redds on the Selway River from a helicopter when the craft malfunctioned and came crashing down.
“This is a sad day for Fish and Game and our families,” Jim Unsworth, Deputy director of Fish and Game, told klewtv.com. According to the news station, Fish and Game biologists have counted salmon redds annually since the 1950s using fixed wing and helicopters.
The helicopter crash-landed in a driveway not far from a school. Witnesses from the ground said it looked like the pilot, whose name has not been released, fought to keep the helicopter from crashing into the school or other nearby buildings. Witnesses said they also heard pops coming from the helicopter and saw pieces fly off of it before it went down.
This accident comes only weeks after a Fish and Game biologist and pilot were injured in a plane crash in Wyoming. In that crash, the biologist was conducting a survey on pronghorn.
In January, a helicopter carrying two Idaho Fish and Game biologists crashed in the Kelly Creek area on the North Fork of the Clearwater River. Fortunately neither of the biologists nor the pilot suffered life-threatening injuries in that crash, according to Klewtv.com.
Every year Idaho Fish and Game biologists spend about 1,000 hours in the air conducting surveys.
Photo: Robert Millage