Four People Survive Helicopter Crash On Pikes Peak

By: KKTV Email
By: KKTV Email

Four people are injured but alive after a helicopter crashed Friday morning on Pikes Peak.

The crash happened just after 7 a.m. right below the summit at the Pikes Peak Highway, just yards from the Cog Railway track.

The four people inside the chopper amazingly all survived the crash. The pilot, Jim Dirker, was taken to Memorial Hospital. Dirker was previously employed as a helicopter pilot for KUSA in Denver. The other three victims were also Memorial Hospital. All four people aboard the chopper have been released from the hospital Friday, as of 2:30 p.m.

"The company had an emergency response team in place," said Jeffrey Hovermale with the U.S. Forest Service.

The helicopter was filming research video for the new “driverless car” by VW/Audi. The car has been dubbed "A Car Called Shelly" and has been being tested for about a month in preparations to lead the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

"There's no problem with the car. Actually from the researchers who were involved, it was a beautiful run up the hill. It's just unfortunate this has happened. Our real concern now is that everybody who was in the crash is recovering and doing well," said Brad Stertz, Audi spokesperson.

The Federal Aviation Administration made it to the top of Pikes Peak around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon to begin their investigation. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office says the wreckage may not be able to be pulled until Saturday.

The car was created by Stanford University researchers, who are developing technology that could help make driving safer and one day allow ordinary cars to drive on their own.

"Shelly" is named after Michelle Mouton, the first woman to win the Pikes Peak race.

Audi posted the following news release on their Web site regarding the crash:

Audi is saddened by the helicopter incident that took place this morning near the summit of Pikes Peak. Today’s film crew was shooting a test run of the “Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak,” a joint program involving Audi, the Electronic Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, and Stanford University. The goal of the project involves ascending Pikes Peak autonomously without a driver behind the wheel to demonstrate the capabilities of advanced driver assistance systems and GPS. The car was not involved in the incident.

Further information on the helicopter incident will be released by the National Transportation Safety Board and local law enforcement officials. All research activities on Pikes Peak have been suspended. The research project will continue at a later date.

Hazmat crews were also called to clean up a fuel spill that resulted from the crash.

The Pikes Peak Highway has been closed from Crystal Reservoir to the top of the peak since the crash. Tourists from across the country, who were planning to go to the top of the peak couldn't drive there.

"We were disappointed, but we can't control that," said Sandra Conkling.

The COG Railway is also closed while federal authorities investigate what happened.

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  • by Be Safe Location: COS on Sep 18, 2010 at 05:06 PM
    Amazed all survived! Best wishes to all aboard. Pilot must have taken all action possible. Thanks to responders for rescue. Thanks to responders for clean-up. Potentially real bad for all but tonight everybody goes home in one piece. Outstanding! Tonight, mountain does not win. Well done.
  • by Dan Location: CS on Sep 18, 2010 at 01:10 PM
    It was an AS355F1 Twinstar with Enhanced RR250-C20J powerplants Not a Jet Ranger!
  • by Rachael Location: CS on Sep 18, 2010 at 11:31 AM
    Holy Hell. SHUT UP. This could have happened to anyone, experienced or not. Lets just focus on the fact that these people survived. I bet they have a better appreciation for life now.
  • by Mark Location: Fountain on Sep 18, 2010 at 10:44 AM
    Having just sent the wreckage of another high altitude crash out in boxes, I am grateful that all involved are doing well, and that this incident was not far worse. Having worked with helicopters for almost 30 years now, I can atest to the fact that this particular aircraft, a Bell 206 series, does suffer from a lack of power, especially at high altitudes. With the temps, winds and the fact that there were 4 on board with film equipment, which will reduce an already slim margin of error, it is a testament to the skill of the pilot that anyone survived, much less all four. Best wishes to the crew and thier families!
  • by C.S. Location: Here on Sep 18, 2010 at 07:22 AM
    Power management is a very tough task and needs the pilots utmost attention. Helicopter pilots have to manage this constantly. I hope all make a speedy recovery! I have been invovled in an accident that was deemed Human error and fortunately we all walked away.
  • by Dan Location: colorado on Sep 17, 2010 at 04:13 PM
    Wayne, I cant even think why you would be so RUDE! That pilot is a very good pilot. Those stanford grads are so good at what they do, and I pretty sure they would (if they could defend themselfs) would show you alot and make you look very small. Those people up there working to make your life better, show some respect.
  • by John Location: Colorado Springs on Sep 17, 2010 at 02:09 PM
    Mike is exactly correct. Jim Dirker is perhaps the most experienced high altitude pilot in the Rocky Mountain region, possibly in the world. I have flown with Jim on multiple occasions to mountaintop sites in sub-prime conditions and would gladly do so again. I have flown with many heli pilots and he is definitely one of the absolute best. Hopefully he will have a speedy recovery and be back in the air very soon.
  • by Diago Cortez Location: pikes peak on Sep 17, 2010 at 01:36 PM
    Just amazing that anyone survived.
  • by Wayne on Sep 17, 2010 at 12:57 PM
    Sorry, but I'm going to nitpick a bit. "just yards from near the Cog Railway". Near could be deleted. "and has been being tested". What??? "Standford University" I think you mean Stanford University without the "d". A little proofreading could really help.
  • by Mike Location: Los Angeles on Sep 17, 2010 at 12:24 PM
    Jim Dirker is more familiar with the flying conditions on Pikes Peak than most any other heli pilot around. He is the first choice of the Hill Climb organizers and is the most recommended to film makers. It wouldn't be wise to draw conclusions until the facts come out.
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