As investigators continued to sift through the charred wreckage of a helicopter crash that killed three people Saturday, there's still no word on what went wrong.
"There's a lot of speculation that comes more from the witnesses," Carbon County Sheriff James Cordova said Sunday. But in the coming months, it will be up to investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to determine what actually happened, he said.
James Ian Innes, 59, of Salt Lake, was piloting the copter and stopped at the Price Airport to refuel before returning from a fishing trip around 3:30 p.m.
The aircraft crashed shortly after taking off, causing a large explosion about a mile west of the Carbon County Airport. Innes and his son, 30-year-old Andrew Innes, of Park City, and George McDaniel, 40, of Idaho Falls, were killed in the fiery crash, officials said.
Cordova said Sunday it could take more than a week before investigators are able to make any determinations about the crash. That's when the FAA and the NTSB are expected to release their preliminary reports, he said.
Witnesses said they believed wind gusts, directed at the tail of the helicopter, may have forced it to the ground. A day after the crash, Cordova said that possibility
has been ruled out.
"When I was out there yesterday, there was no gusty wind," Cordova said Sunday. "It was just an average summer day."
A heavy load could be at fault, Cordova said. The small, Hughes 500D, had just refueled and was carrying three passengers and some equipment.
Hot temperatures and thin, high-altitude air remain potential factors. As does pilot error, though friends said James Innes was an experienced pilot who had logged thousands of hours in a chopper.
"The weather is always a factor," NTSB spokesman Patrick Jones said Sunday, according KSL-TV. "The pilot is a factor. I mean, all of it can play in and nothing is excluded at this point."Carbon County sheriff's deputies will remain at the crash site for another day or two to allow federal officials to wrap up their investigation, Cordova said. A final report from the FAA and NTSB could take nearly a year, he said.
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