Press Release

NASA Expresses Concern and Condolences for Helicopter Crew

By SpaceRef Editor
March 28, 2003
Filed under , ,

NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe expressed condolences
and concern for the crew of the helicopter searching for
Space Shuttle Columbia debris, which crashed yesterday in

“All of us at NASA express our sincere condolences to the
families of the helicopter crew members killed in the
accident. We deeply empathize with their loss during such a
trying time, and have lowered flags at all NASA centers to
honor the memory of their loved ones. Our thoughts and
concerns go out to the injured crew members, and we pray for
their speedy recovery,” Administrator O’Keefe said.

Administrator O’Keefe visited the operations area earlier
this week and thanked the personnel searching for Columbia
debris. “I spoke with Governor Rick Perry, our debris search
partners, local and state law enforcement officials, and I
feel this accident has widened the NASA family. We at NASA
have been so impressed by the devotion, energy and
dedication of search crews, and we are deeply sorry for the
loss and injury of the people helping us solve the Columbia
accident,” Administrator O’Keefe said.

The contract Bell 407 helicopter crashed Thursday afternoon,
while searching for Columbia debris in the Angelina National
Forest in San Augustine County, Texas. Five people were on
the helicopter when it crashed. Two were killed and three
injured. Flight operations have been temporarily suspended,
and the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will
investigate the accident. The helicopter was operating under
USDA Forest Service contract with Papillon Helicopters of

Ground search operations for Columbia debris continue.
Search operations in eastern Texas were scheduled to
continue for approximately four to six weeks. It is too
early to determine if the accident will delay completion of
search operations.

For more information about NASA or the Columbia accident
investigation on the Internet, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.