The crash of a US cargo helicopter in the jungles of Peru has reportedly killed seven people. Five of the victims were Americans.
The helicopter, which is owned by the Oregon company Columbia Helicopters, crashed shortly after taking off from Pucallpa. According to Fox News, the company said the vehicle was on the way to a drilling location in northern Peru.
Air traffic controllers said they saw a large cloud of smoke coming from the helicopter’s location shortly after take-off. Witnesses said it lost control before the crash occurred.
Police commander Miguel Cardoso said that some of the bodies were pulled from the wreckage while others were found nearby. Reports indicate that three of the people on-board the helicopter may have jumped out prior to the crash.
The American victims were identified as Dann Immel, Edwin Cordova, Jaime Pickett, Darrel Birkes and Leon Bradford. Peruvians Igor Castillo and Luis Ramos also died during the accident.
Although local media suggested that the helicopter was overloaded at the time, the company’s vice president of marketing stated there was no way the vehicle was over capacity.
Columbia Helicopters Michael Fahey told CNN:
“We’ve notified all the authorities and are cooperating with everyone fully, and we’ll do everything we can to learn any causes … of the accident. It’s a very sad day for us. We operate globally, but we’re a family and we’re very close to our employees. And I personally knew many of the individuals who died as our other employees know many of them. We’re grieving for them.”
Columbia Helicopters also said that an investigation is currently underway to determine what caused the crash. The company is reportedly working with authorities in Peru to unravel the mystery behind the fatal accident.
As of this writing, it’s currently unknown what caused the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of five Americans and two Peruvians.