Colorado Helicopter Crash Claims Experienced Rescue Pilot

Chopper snagged a power line while conducting inspections


 
 

DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press Writer | | Wednesday, January 29, 2014


DENVER (AP) — Time after time, pilot Doug Sheffer set down his helicopter atop Colorado peaks, allowing rescuers to reach stranded hikers or mountaineers.

"There's a number of people today who wouldn't be alive had it not been for his skill and experience," Jeff Edelson, a firefighter, paramedic and president of the volunteer Mountain Rescue Aspen group, said in an interview Tuesday.

A day earlier, Sheffer was killed on a more routine mission, helping a utility company survey power lines in western Colorado near his hometown of Rifle. The two other men aboard also were killed.

One of them was longtime Holy Cross Energy employee Larry Shaffer, utility spokesman Stephen Casey said. The role of the third man, identified by the Garfield County Coroner's office as Christopher Gaskill, was not immediately clear.

Witnesses believe the helicopter snagged a line before crashing, sheriff's deputy Walt Stowe said.

Casey said Sheffer's helicopter was being used for surveying, which involved using infrared cameras to identify hot spots that could require further inspection. Casey said such aerial surveying is common.

The site of the crash along a road contrasts with the rugged, remote areas where Sheffer had flown rescue crews.

Edelson said Sheffer flew for Mountain Rescue Aspen for more than a decade. He took crews to spots that would've required half a day of hiking to reach.

Sheffer also helped with sheriff's search and rescue operations in Garfield County, Stowe said, adding the pilot had more than 8,000 hours in the air.

Ron Vincent, a flight instructor from Glenwood Springs, taught Sheffer to fly planes in the 1980s. Vincent said Tuesday he had proposed teaching Sheffer to fly fixed-wing craft, then Sheffer suggested they also learn to fly helicopters, and Sheffer soon outstripped his teacher.

A desire to take part in rescue missions was part of what prompted Sheffer to learn to fly helicopters, Vincent said. Sheffer, a former ski instructor, went on to own his own helicopter company.

The company also flew photographers and cameramen such as Ron Chapple, who hired Sheffer for ski films and other projects. Chapple said in an interview he was working in Mississippi when he heard of Sheffer's death, and learned his pilot there also knew Sheffer. The two pilots took a safety course together a decade ago, Chapple said.

"He hadn't seen Doug in 10 years, and he was as moved as I was" about Sheffer's death, Chapple said. "He was one heck of a pilot."

Carla Comey, a friend of Sheffer and Sheffer's wife, said that when he did speak of his work, it was not to brag about his exploits.

"What he liked to talk about was the joy of teamwork, of working with search and rescue teams," said Comey, an administrator at a school Sheffer helped start when his daughter was young.

Sheffer remained involved at the school after his daughter finished the last year there, eighth grade, in 2002, Comey said.

"We'd have a storm, and he'd show up with his truck and shovel snow," she said. "He deserves recognition. He was a shining example of generosity and community."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mobile Category: 
News


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, helicopter crash

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Mechanical CPR is Producing Resuscitation Results Beyond Expectations

Discover why clinical studies are finding mechanical CPR just as effective as optimally-performed CPR.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

New York Boys Rescued from Snow Pile

Plow accidentally covers Newberg boys.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Technology Helps Missouri Ambulances

Strategic GPS tracking helps in Springfield.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Profile: Hospital Wing Air Ambulance

Take a look inside this Memphis service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Monitors for Wyoming EMS

Grant helps Torrington EMS get new equipment.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Violence, Arson in Ferguson

Crowds in Ferguson and elsewhere react to decision.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

California Bus Rollover

One killed and dozens injured.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Buffalo Residents Dig Out and Prepare for Flooding

Flooding expected as heavy snow melts.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >