MORGAN CITY, LA – National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are trying to determine what caused a Robinson R-44 helicopter to crash near Bell Isle, Louisiana, January 19, killing two experienced pilots on their way to a meeting.
The helicopter, owned by Cenac Marine Services of Houma, La., was piloted by Jason McKean, 40, who flew helicopters for a Houma-based charter company. His passenger, 43-year-old Lanny Ledet, was a longtime employee of Cenac Marine Services, but investigators don’t yet know why Mr. Ledet was piloting the helicopter instead of Mr. McKean.
The St. Mary Coroner’s Office determined that both men died of blunt force injuries in the crash.
Although the investigation is expected to take several weeks to complete, NTSB spokeswoman Bridget Serchak told the Associated Press there was “no indication of anything broken off” before the helicopter crashed about 13 miles southwest of Morgan City. The helicopter went down about an hour after it took off from the Houma-Terrabonne Airport around 8 a.m. on the 19th.
Various sources report that the flight did not appear to be related to work. One contact told the AP that he understood the men were on their way to an alligator-industry conference, which may have been linked to Mr. Ledet’s position as manager of a Cenac-owned hunting ranch in Houma, which has an alligator processing facility on its premises.
NTSB investigator Arnold Scott told WWL-TV that he was on his way to Louisiana to investigate the crash, adding that it was “going to be a while before we get all our facts together.”