A 53-year-old Connecticut man died and another person was critically injured after a helicopter crash Wednesday afternoon in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
Good Samaritans called 911 about 3:40 p.m. and began rendering first aid for the victims after they witnessed the crash, Nevada Highway Patrol spokesman Jason Buratczuk said outside the scene Wednesday evening.
The two people were the only ones onboard the Robinson R44 helicopter, and both were taken to University Medical Center in critical condition, he said. The man, who was the pilot, died at the hospital, Buratczuk later said.
Nevada Highway was closed between Sky Vista Drive and Moenkopi Road because of debris on both sides of the road and fuel “onboard” the helicopter, Buratczuk said. The helicopter battery was still connected and could ignite the fuel, he said.
“We’re keeping everyone as far back as possible because we don’t want any type of fire or explosion to take place,” he said.
Buratczuk said the helicopter crashed about 20 feet from the road, north of the Desert Sportsman Rifle Club and the Red Rock Canyon entrance sign.
The Metropolitan Police Department said Route 159 is expected to reopen Thursday afternoon. According to a Highway Patrol tweet, plans called for visitors to be able to access Red Rock Canyon’s scenic loop Thursday morning by taking state Highway 160 to Highway 159.
The helicopter is registered to Binner Enterprises LLC, a Henderson aviation and flight school, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Binner Enterprises is owned by Matthew Binner, whose LinkedIn profile also lists him as the director of operations for 5 Star Helicopter Tours.
Binner said the helicopter was flown by a registered pilot.
Buratczuk was unable to confirm where the helicopter was coming from or why it crashed.
He said the witnesses who saw the crash were quick to call 911 and started helping the victims “well before” any first responders got to the scene.
“Kudos to the citizens who were on the scene first,” he said. “That was great that they were there to help.”
Law enforcement and the FAA remained on scene Wednesday night.