Prominent Zimbabwean politician Roy Bennett has been killed with his wife in a helicopter crash in North America. The couple died along with three others when the aircraft crashed on Wednesday in a mountainous area in the US state of New Mexico. One person survived.
The following is a news release from the New Mexico State Police:
Around 6:00 p.m. on January 17, 2018, Raton, New Mexico Police Department (RPD) dispatch contacted New Mexico State Police regarding a call of a downed helicopter.
RPD received a 911 call from a victim in the crash who reported the incident. The victim informed dispatch there were six people aboard the helicopter when it crashed. The caller reported three were injured and the other three unaccounted for. The exact location of the crash was uncertain.
Area law enforcement, including New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and Colfax County Sheriff’s Department began searching for the site. Local fire departments and EMS were also activated. A fire was reported at a nearby ranch, approximately ten miles east of Raton. The downed helicopter was believed to have caused the fire. The New Mexico State Police Aircraft Division deployed a helicopter to assist in the search.
Fire department and law enforcement vehicles responded to the area, but response was slow due to the area being extremely remote with rugged terrain and limited road access. Wreckage was spotted in a rancher’s property east of Raton. A grass fire had burned the area of approximately a mile radius around the crash site.
New Mexico State Police officers on scene reported the helicopter wreckage had been engulfed in fire making identification difficult. Three individuals were located at the site deceased. Two other male subjects were alive but in critical condition. The passenger who called 911 was injured but able to give some information.
Officers and EMS began immediate medical treatment on scene. One of the passengers in critical condition died at the scene a short time later. Another succumbed to injuries while en route to a hospital via air medical transport.
The deceased have been identified as
Jamie Coleman Dodd (57) of Trinidad, CO – pilot
Paul Cobb (67) of Conroe, TX – co-pilot
Charles Ryland Burnett (61) of Houston, TX
Roy Bennett (60) of Colorado and South Africa
Heather Bennett (55) of Colorado
The survivor of the crash sustained serious injuries but is expected to survive.
The nature of this flight is not known. The helicopter has been identified as a private Huey helicopter. The tail number is not available. The limited flight information available indicates the helicopter was traveling from Raton, NM to Folsom, NM.
The Federal Aviation Administration was contacted to investigate this crash and is currently on scene. For any question regarding the cause and nature of this crash, please contact the FAA. No further details are available.
(News release from New Mexico State Police)