Wreckage from fatal helicopter crash recovered from lake


published: 21 February 2017
by: Curtis Heyen

The bulk of the helicopter that crashed Feb. 15, killing an East Texas couple, has been removed from Wallace Lake, law enforcement authorities report.

One of three airboats used to recover helicopter wreckage from Wallace Lake sits on a tractor-trailer Feb. 21 at the boat launch.

The Caddo Sheriff’s Office expects Lone Star Retrieval to wrap up its work sometime today since its deputies were hired to stand guard through 7 a.m. Feb. 22, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick said.

Sheriff’s Lt. Donna Jackson “said the helicopter is gone and they are just picking up little pieces,” Chadwick said.

That account echoes what DeSoto Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle said, who added that he was told by the salvage company that the hope was to get the rest of the wreckage out of the lake today.

The sheriff said he watched about noon Monday as a 14-foot-wide, twin-engine air boat equipped with a crane was unloaded and launched. The Red Oak, Texas, company also is using two other air boats in the salvage operation, Arbuckle said.

The wreckage is being brought out at the boat launch on the Caddo side of Wallace Lake, Chadwick said.

NTSB spokesman Terry Williams told KSLA News 12 the wreckage will be taken to a secure location where it will be examined.

Arbuckle said he was told the wreckage is being taken to an NTSB warehouse in Dallas.

A crew was out Sunday morning mapping a path so the wreckage could be recovered from Wallace Lake.

Bossier sheriff’s Capt. Donnie Keith takes Caddo sheriff’s Sgt. Chad Davis (left) and DeSoto Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle to the crash site. With them was Richard Ball, of Lone Star Retrieval Services.

The Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office used an air boat to help scout a way through giant salvinia, cypress tree knees and shallow water for the larger watercraft to later access the crash site in the lake that straddles Caddo and DeSoto parishes.

Killed in the crash were 54-year-old Terry Bailey and his wife, 57-year-old Pamela, of Center, Texas. Their funeral was held Saturday in Center.

Family members told authorities that the Baileys had flown to Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City for Valentine’s Day dinner.

The Baileys’ Bell B429 is believed to have crashed into the lake late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

Flightradar24’s flight tracker indicates the helicopter was in the air for about 3 minutes – from 12:16 a.m. to 12:19 a.m. Feb. 15.

It flew to 1,150 feet then settled in at an altitude of 925 to 950 feet before climbing back to 1,075 before it went off radar at 625 feet.

The helicopter’s peak speed midflight was 156 knots, or about 179.7 mph. It was traveling at 149 knots, or 171.7 mph, when it went off radar.

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