NTSB releases first report about Seattle news chopper crash

NTSB releases first report about Seattle news chopper crash
An investigator looks over the aftermath of a news helicopter crash Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Seattle, Wash. A KOMO-TV helicopter crashed into a city street near Seattle's Space Needle, killing two people and critically injuring a person in a car on the ground. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Jordan Stead) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; TV OUT

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its first report on the helicopter crash that happened at our sister station, KOMO News, in Seattle earlier this week.

Helicopters don't have flight recorders like airplanes do, so investigators have been relying on photos and videos from bystanders. Now, they have three pieces of surveillance video that helped them determine what the helicopter did moments before it crashed.

The NTSB reports the helicopter was on the helipad at Fisher Plaza for 15 minutes before it took off on Tuesday morning.  Those surveillance videos, which haven't been released, first show the helicopter rotating 360 degrees counter-clockwise at take-off. It was level. Then it took a nose dive. It continued rotating downward until it goes out of the cameras’ view.

KOMO reports one of the pieces of surveillance video is from a nearby McDonald’s restaurant.  Another is from the Space Needle across the street.  The location of the third piece of video is unclear. They are reportedly the only video sources that show the crash in its entirety.

The helicopter crashed and burst into flames on the street below the KOMO News headquarters across from the space needle early Tuesday morning.

The crash killed the pilot Gary Pfitzner, and former KOMO photographer Bill Strothman, on impact. Both men worked for Helicopters, Inc.

A Seattle man was also seriously injured when the helicopter crashed on his car.

It could take up to a year before the NTSB releases a full report about what caused the crash to happen.  The NTSB was able to locate all of the helicopter's major parts within 340 feet of the crash site. They're working on going through all of that.