Investigation underway in former 'Ax Men' helilogger's fatal crash

Witnesses saw logging helicopter turn upside down

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:27:05 AM EST   Updated On: Sep 17 2013 03:53:52 PM EDT
Brevard man dies in Oregon helicopter crash
SALEM, Ore. -

Officials are continuing to investigate the cause of the helicopter crash that killed a Central Florida man at a logging site Monday afternoon in Oregon.

William Bart Colantuono, 54, of Indialantic, Fla., was pronounced dead at the scene when the helicopter overturned and crashed into the ground around 3:40 p.m.

Allen Kenitzer of the Federal Aviation Administration said both the administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. At this time, it’s too soon for officials to release any information on the investigation, although the NTSB will frequently post updates online within a week or two of an accident.

“However, it typically takes NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents,” he said in an email.

The helicopter, a 1962 Bell UH1B, was being used to transport logs from the cutting area to a log deck in Idanha. It had picked up a load when witnesses reported hearing a loud snapping sound, followed by the logs hitting the ground. It appeared the pilot had released the logs electronically, indicating he knew of a problem prior to the crash. Witnesses further reported seeing the rotor separate from the helicopter, at which point it flipped upside down and fell to the ground.

The crash occurred near Forest Service Road 1003, approximately two miles from Highway 22 near Blowout Road near Detroit.

Colantuono was the sole occupant of the aircraft. No one else has been reported injured. The helicopter was owned by Umatilla Lift Services out of Indialantic, and was being contracted to fly logs from the logging site for Freres Lumber Company in Mill City.

Colantuono was taken to Weddle Funeral Home in Stayton pending further arrangements.