Comments on the Seattle Helicopter Crash

Just a few words about how heartless and stupid people can be.

KOMO Helicopter
One of KOMO’s helicopters departs the Seattle hellpad on a spring day two years ago.

I was sitting at my desk, writing a blog post about Sunday’s day trip, when a brief news blurb on NPR mentioned a helicopter had crashed at the base of the Space Needle in Seattle. My friend Greg flies KOMO’s helicopter from a rooftop helipad there. My blood ran cold as I got on Facebook to message him and his wife, hoping he wasn’t the pilot involved.

Pam came back quickly. It wasn’t Greg. I felt relief. But did it really matter? Was the accident any less tragic because my friend hadn’t been hurt? Of course not. Someone else’s loved ones had been killed. It was a tragedy no matter who was involved.

Of course, someone posted the breaking news story link from KOMO’s website to the Helicopter Pilot’s forum on Facebook. And people were commenting. Stupid, thoughtless people.

The accident had happened only minutes before — hell, the fire was probably still burning — and guys who are supposedly helicopter pilots were already speculating about the cause and spreading misinformation.

“Settling with power,” one genius proclaimed.

“According to witnesses, he was attempting to land on a roof and rolled off,” another amateur reporter added.

It was pretty obvious to me that neither of these “experts” had read the 150 words in the original version of the story they were commenting on — heck, why bother read before commenting? — which clearly said the helicopter was taking off when the accident occurred. Settling with power isn’t something that is likely on takeoff from a rooftop helipad. And it was an established helipad, not merely “a roof.”

Later, the first genius added another piece of fictitious insight: “Yea originally they said he was landing. Just heard there was a crane put up, and be hit a wire.”

“Just heard”? From where? None of the news stories — even hours later when the stories are more fully developed — say anything about a crane.

Other comments and speculations that were clearly not tactful or fully informed followed. I think some of them may have been deleted, but the responses to them remain. Most of us are agreed that this is no time for speculations — especially when there’s a shortage of facts to support them.

The situation was worse, of course, on KOMO’s website where the article appeared. Some cold-hearted conservatives rejoiced over the death of two liberals — as if they knew the political leanings of the pilot and his passenger and as if that actually mattered. One moron even commented that it was too bad Obama wasn’t on board.

Seriously? Do people actually think like that?

I spent ten minutes flagging obnoxious and offensive comments before finally giving up and getting on with my day.

But come on people, let’s look at the reality of the situation: There was an accident in Seattle that took the lives of two men. Men with lives and families. Men likely doing the work they loved. Men who lived and breathed and loved and dreamed, just like all of us.

Surely they deserve better than some of the uninformed speculation and heartless comments the reports of their death are attracting.

Rest in peace, guys.

6 thoughts on “Comments on the Seattle Helicopter Crash

  1. Callous, thoughtless people…. Sad. :-(

    The speculation and comments ad nauseum about the Maylasian Airlines plane disappearance is another example. Even a few so-called “experts” have speculated some of the most horrendous, scary things, and I so hope the families and friends aren’t listening to all that garbage.

    Takes me back to what my mom and grandma used to tell me, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That should apply to speculating as well, especially online or in public.

    • You are so right, Shirley. And I agree about the Malaysian Airlines plane. (What’s with CNN?) But the Internet is a magnet for people who have nothing nice to say or just want to be seen as “experts” when they don’t know jack shit. I refuse to give people like that a forum on my blog and fight back behind the scenes when I don’t have direct control. The worst thing in the world you can do is “feed” the trolls by arguing with them.

  2. Maria, I will tell you that as a Conservative, I am not like those people and the majority of Conservatives aren’t either. I believe that when you get to the extremes of any group, political or otherwise, you will get these wackjobs commenting.

    Now, about the crash. I had read that there was a witness that said one of the skids hooked a cable when getting airborn. That would explain a lot but it was not verifiable.

    Very tragic.

    • It’s the extremists on both sides — although the ultra-conservatives seem (to me) to be a lot more vocal — that make political discourse in this country impossible and have made our government completely dysfunctional. It’s a sorry, sorry state of affairs.

      The photos of the helipad show fencing around it; hope he didn’t get caught up in that. I’m sure we’ll know about helipad obstacles soon enough; if there were cables up there, they should still be there easy enough to identify. Even with full fuel, two people, and TV equipment on board, I’m sure he was below max gross weight so I doubt performance was an issue — unless there was a mechanical problem. Now I’m speculating. It’s easy enough to do, but it’s better to wait for the facts. I’m sure the investigators are already thinking of more possibilities than any of us could imagine.

  3. I avidly follow these stories because , as a professional heli pilot, I want to know what really happened, and what lessons can be learned. Inane, heartless comments just muddy the waters. I sympathise with the families and friends of the two victims, having lost friends myself to accidents.
    By the way was this an AS 350 Astar (Squirrel)?

    • I think it was an AS 350. I don’t think the one in my photo is.

      I think that anyone who has been in aviation for at least 10 years has probably lost friends or acquaintances. It’s that kind of job. Things happen and often they happen too quickly for a pilot to be able to recover the aircraft. I’m sure we’ll find out what happened in this crash, but isn’t it best left to the NTSB inspectors to gather the evidence from reliable sources and make conclusions based on that? Why can’t these desk pilots understand that and wait until the investigation process is done? I know from my own studies of NTSB reports that accidents involving deaths seem to get high priority and more thorough reporting. I’m willing to wait to see what I, as a pilot, can learn from what happened based on what actually happened — not some wild guesses a hour after the event.

      The “settling with power” conclusion so confidently voiced by one commenter is particularly offensive to me. It’s so far out of the realm of likelihood and was asserted so confidently by someone who probably hasn’t got more than 100 hours of helicopter time under his belt. It’s people like that, sharing their “expertise” with non-pilots, who do a real disservice to the industry.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Excuse my further rantings.

What do you think?