Delaware State Police along with emergency personnel are on the scene of a helicopter crash on Quigley Blvd in New Castle that occurred just before 12 Noon.
NEW CASTLE (DE): Just before 12 Noon Thursday, Emergency responders were summoned to the area of the 200 block of Quigley Blvd in New Castle for a reported helicopter crash. When emergency responders arrived they found an aircraft engulfed in flames behind the U.S. Post Office on Quigley Blvd, in a grassy area.
Delaware Newsline was there after emergency personnel extinguished the fire and later identified the aircraft as a Eurocopter E135. It could not be confirmed at the time if anyone on the ground had been injured or transported to area hospitals, but we did see several ambulances and emergency vehicles come and go from the crash site.
By 12:30 P.M. Police had the area surrounding the crash site sealed off, and began investigating and interviewing witnesses. DELDOT had both entrances to Quigley Blvd closed, snarling traffic in the area for hours. Curious citizens including those in vehicles were attempting to drive down Quigley Blvd, some even parked at the nearby New Castle Farmers Market and attempted to make the trek down Quigley blvd, but was quickly stopped by police.
Police from several area departments responded and emergency personnel, including several fire companies along with New Castle County Paramedics, and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) responded to the fiery crash site within minutes. Sources say that the National Transportation Board (NTSB) was notified and was being dispatched to the crash site along with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Finally, around 12:45, the first fatality was confirmed at a short briefing in the area. Jim Peters of the Federal Aviation Administration said “the pilot was the only one on board”. He was not identified until later that evening when more information was released at a press conference. That pilot was then identified as Michael R. Murphy, 37 of Franklinville, New Jersey. Sources say, he was a father to one and his wife was expecting another baby.
“This is currently an ongoing and active investigation which is being conducted by the Delaware State Police, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the federal Aviation Administration (FAA)”, Hale said.
Murphy was employed by Metro Aviation, who provides medical evacuation services for the University of Pennsylvania. The helicopter was registered and owned by PennSTAR. PennSTAR provides emergency transportation services within a 100 mile radius. According to police spokesman, Jeffery Hale, Murphy’s body was turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science where an autopsy will be performed.
At a press briefing conducted by Jeffery R. Hale (Delaware State Police), the helicopter was a Eurocopter EC135 craft and was registered to the University of Pennsylvania. “The pilot was taking part in an approach training exercise. He’d (Murphy) flown from the Atlantic City Airport and was conducting ‘approach training’ in the area of the airport.”
The crash caused minor property damage. Several parked vehicles on the property were damaged as a result of flying debris and flames. No occupied buildings were damaged, however, though a shed sustained some damage from debris and flames. Hale said.
According to FlightAware, one of the world’s largest flight tracking websites, Murphy left Atlantic city airport at 11:17 A.M. and was bound for New castle County Airport where he was expected to arrive at 11:57 A.M. The craft went down two minutes prior to the scheduled arrival time at New Castle county Airport which is just a short distance away.
According to Heidi Kemner with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the helicopter was on an “instrument flight rules flight plan and was practicing instrument approaches at the time of the crash”.