New Animation Sheds Light Into Deadly News Helicopter Crash

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New animation released of a deadly two-helicopter crash sheds light on what happened above the skies of Phoenix during a police chase two years ago.

Pilots Scott Bowerbank and Craig Smith, along with photographers Jim Cox and Rick Krolak were killed when their news choppers met in mid-air above Steele Indian School Park while covering a police pursuit in Phoenix July 27th, 2007. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation faulted KTVK Channel 3's Bowerbank and KNXV Channel 15's Smith for the crash.

The families of Bowerbank and Cox filed suit against KNXV and the owner of Channel 15's helicopter for the wrongful death of Smith and Krolak. Today, the attorney for the Bowerbank and Cox families, Pat McGroder, announced the family had settled with KNXV for an unspecified amount of money.

The attorney also released a new animation that shows KNXV's news helicopter veering into KTVK's chopper above the park. The animation included voice commentary from Bowerbank and Smith, along with previously unreleased video footage from KTVK's broadcast signal that day.

The animation shows KNXV's chopper veering into KTVK's helicopter while both Bowerbank and Smith were providing commentary for each station's coverage. McGroder argues his animation is more accurate than the NTSB's investigation findings after reviewing radar, video, audio recordings and eyewitness accounts.

The National Transportation Safety Board's say they'll review McGroder's animation but say today's video release may not have much of an affect on their investigation.

"It's possible we may look at the attorney's recreation," a statement released by the NTSB read on KNXV's website. "It remains to be seen if it will affect the probable cause."

Lawyers representing the fifteen-year-old son of Krolak filed a wrongful-death claim against US Helicopters, the operator of KTVK's news chopper, and KTVK's parent company Belo Corporation.

Generally, to avoid collisions, news helicopter pilots communicate with each other on a single radio frequency. Phoenix helicopter pilots use a program known as "Sharp Echo" to communicate flight positions.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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