NTSB: Preliminary report on White Co. fatal helicopter crash

A helicopter crashed in White County, just southeast of Chalmers, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (WLFI Photo)

WHITE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary findings regarding last week’s White County helicopter crash.

NTSB investigators gathered information from three witnesses, cellphone video provided by one witness and weather data from a nearby observation tower at the White County Airport in Monticello.

The video showed events leading up to the crash and the crash itself, while the pilot was doing work on the power lines. It revealed the pilot, 53-year-old Howard Esterbrook of Hawaii, was attempting to run a sock line through a needle hole of a tower structure when the crash occurred.

Esterbrook was killed in the crash and the helicopter was destroyed.

Witnesses say wind gusts were happening at the time of the crash, and weather data collected confirmed there were wind gusts in the area as high as 22 miles per hour. Light snow was also confirmed and visibility was reduced to 7 miles.

According to the NTSB, visual meteorological conditions were occurring at the time of the crash and no flight plan had been filed.

The wreckage is being held by the NTSB for further examination.