2 pilots die after firefighting helicopter crashes in Idaho

REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — Both pilots of a firefighting helicopter that crashed in Idaho have died, the U.S. Forest Service said on Friday.

Mary Cernicek with the Salmon-Challis National Forest said Thomas Hayes, 41, of Post Falls, Idaho, and Jared Bird, 36, of Anchorage, Alaska, died from injuries they sustained when their CH-47D Series “Chinook” crashed in the Salmon River about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The pilots were employees of the Anchorage-based ROTAK Helicopter Services, which was contracted to help fight the Moose Fire burning about 21 miles north of Salmon.

Both pilots were “highly experienced” and military veterans, Cernicek said. Emergency crews responding to the crash were able to extricate the men and transport them to medical facilities but they did not survive, she said.

On its website, ROTAK said it confirmed the accident “with heavy hearts” and asked for prayers and privacy on behalf of the families involved.

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“ROTAK Helicopter Services is working closely with all appropriate agencies and will issue a full statement as information is released,” the company wrote.

The Idaho crash comes less than a week after four first responders were killed in another

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