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News helicopters collide in Phoenix

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Two television helicopters (local channels 3 and 15)collided and crashed covering a police chase today. Details are still coming in. Reports are each station lost a pilot and photographer.My thoughts and prayers go out to family, friends and co-workers.

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from what I gathered there are no survivors on the choppers :(still watching live feed as we speak.my prayers go to anyone who knew these pilots/journalists, family etc, a real sad event.

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This has left our community in a state of shock. When you see and hear these people every day, on the tv screen, or over the radio on the drive to work, you feel touched. My office is about seven miles from the park where the choppers went down, and nearly every cell phone went off here as our spouses and significant others told us what had happened. These pilots fly to scenes of crisis every day and you just don't realize the risks they take until something like this happens. I'd say on behalf of the several million who liver here in Phoenix and the surrounding area, our thoughts are with the families and co-workers of those aboard these choppers.Regards,John - KPHX

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Yes John, this was a terrible accident and we all feel pretty horrible about it. I watch channel 3's coverage almost every night between 4:30 and 6:30. I'm obviously very familiar with Scott Bowerbank and even the camerman Jim Cox. I wasn't at work today, but my office building is just south of Indian School on 7th Street. The boss's window faces west, so it's very possible I would have seen this event take place since we're on the second floor and have a unobstructed wide view of the downtown area. I can see out his window pretty good from out in the middle of the office.Anyhow, I've seen the coverage and some video from a website that has the live feed of when it happened. The channel 15 pilot is describing the chase and all of the sudden goes "Oh *******..", then the screen becomes all scrambled and you can hear all this crashing. As the station goes back to the reporter in the newroom you hear the pilot screaming to his death. The one pilot in another helicopter said he heard screaming on the UNICOM as it happened too.I feel bad for all the families and friends of these 4 people.

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Pretty crazy - I'd just driven by the place where this happened a few days ago... it's maybe 4 miles from my house. I just moved to Phoenix from Tucson back in May, so I wasn't too familiar with the reporters involved, but it's still shocking to have something like this happen right down the street basically... A couple days earlier I'd seen 3 or 4 helicopters doing something just north of the 202 while driving near KPHX and thought to myself, "Wow those guys are pretty close to each other." It's not something I've ever seen before - Tucson was the largest city I'd lived in prior to now and I don't think any of the news stations had helicopters there.

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The most bizarre thing in this story is that the police where planning the charge the guy who stole the car in the deaths of the people on the helicopters. I cannot see how he is responsible. The decision to show these stories on local news is the decision of the television stations (even though it barely counts as news). So if you have a fender bender on a major highway and two traffic helicopters crash covering it would you charge the drivers? I don't expect to see these charges hold up in court...perhaps the TV guys to make an arrangement to have just one helicopter cover these stories and share the video feed.Mark.

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"...cannot see how he is responsible. The decision to show these stories on local news is the decision of the television stations (even though it barely counts as news). So if you have a fender bender on a major highway and two traffic helicopters crash covering it would you charge the drivers? I don't expect to see these charges hold up in court..."I've heard this argument on our local media here in Phoenix--I wanted to call in to KTAR the other day to discuss it, but didn't come home from work until 8:30PM.My feeling is these stations are providing a public service for our community. A year ago I would have found myself in the midst of a similar chase on the Loop 101 had it not been for TV coverage. The idiot later crashed and took out several cars with him. On the radio and on some TV stations its been argued these chases are taped to feed a public lust for entertainment. Maybe after the fact they show up on "Greatest Police Chases", but during, what the TV crews do save lives. Not only do they provide the public information, but they augment and aid the police as well. In more than one instance, police have lost track of a suspect the media has been able to tail--oft times a dangerous suspect. The media has steered the police to the suspect and the public away. Media copters have also helped evacuate people to hospitals or from areas threatened by fire, flood or some other pending emergency.The police have their hands full chasing the suspect--and have relied on the media for years to get the word out to the public. Meanwhile, the scum that likes to be the center of attention, leading police on these car chases, wants to get their fifteen minutes of fame and walk away after six months in jail. Maybe with their fellow gangbangers they are heroes.Outside of those circles of scum, this punk isn't a hero and isn't going to escape responsibility for what happened. He is responsible for the deaths of four people who were performing a service that saves lives. Including my wife's, who on her lunch hour would have been in one of the intersections this guy crossed were it not for media coverage. She works a half mile from Indian School and was getting ready to leave for lunch hour.It's an interesting suggestion regarding the idea of one helicopter leased by the stations. While I don't think that's plausible given the breadth of a city like Phoenix, perhaps the stations can agree on limiting the number of copters assigned to a public emergency and share the feed, such as two copters (in case one loses the suspect or perspective on the emergency). That would free up resources to cover incidents elsewhere in the city. Regards,John

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While this accident would not have occured had the chase not been happening - I suspect they would have a very hard time getting a conviction, or having it upheld on appeal.You know the NTSB report is not going to list the chase as the primary cause of the accident. And the defense will use hundreds of other chases as examples of why this type coverage can be done safely.It will come down to what did these two pilots do different from other safely filmed chases, what did they do wrong this time.

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It may not be an easy thing to say, but the only legal responsibility of what happened is of one (or possibly both) of the pilots.If I get hurt in a car accident and the MEDEVAC and police copters collide, I'm not certainly legally responsible for that.Marco

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"And the defense will use hundreds of other chases as examples of why this type coverage can be done safely."While I can't pretend to be a lawyer, it could be argued that a defense could claim hundreds of chases have taken place where a Mom and her three kids hasn't been killed due to an accident caused as a result of the chase. That argument wouldn't hold up, I think, as a solid defense. Point is, the media wouldn't have been in the air keeping the public informed of where things were happening, were it not for this punk leading police on a chase in the first place. Without his participation, no one would be dead right now. -John

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"If I get hurt in a car accident and the MEDEVAC and police copters collide, I'm not certainly legally responsible for that."I think you're comparing apples to oranges--an accident implies you couldn't have done anything to avoid it. On the other hand let's say you were drunk and had an accident that caused a danger to other motorists, one which sent the media to the scene to alert the public and the copter collision happened. Whether in the eyes of the law or not, if one of those copter pilots were my family, I'd consider you accountable. But then again we live in a society where people look for every reason in the world to get scum off the hook--I am sure a lawyer will do his or her best to say this punk can live with a clear conscience. I consider him a murderer and without a doubt he drove with reckless disregard for life around him--that the accident happened in the air above him is neither here nor there. Yes, we know ultimately one or both of those pilots is responsible but neither willfully tried to hurt the other. But the actions of the driver below willfully put everyone at risk trying to keep the public informed.-John

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I'm sorry, but I do not see the news media as some kind of White Knights brigade, risking all to keep the community informed. These guys were after the most tittilating video they could scare up to attract an audience for their advertisers. It's entertainment, and lives lost in the careless pursuit of entertainment is abject stupidity and a waste of life.When I lived in San Antonio a few years back, we had (and probably still have) a problem with morons that like to drive through flooded creek beds during bad weather, getting stuck and often swept away for their trouble. A news helicopter was on scene shooting video of a woman standing on the roof of her submerged pickup truck as the water quickly rose, and as it became apparent that it was close to taking the truck downstream, the helicopter pilot decided to try a rescue...he put the skid on the roof, and the woman grabbed hold. The cameraman in the helicopter, rather than helping the endangered woman out, had his video camera slung over the side of the chopper right in the lady's face throughout the short flight to the shore. The really funny thing is the whole thing was filmed by a news crew from another station from the road above the creek. It was like watching two rats trying to eat each other.If the MEDEVAC and police choppers collide, at least their loss was due to taking a calculated risk to carry out their public service mission. As for the news helicopters...well, I can't feel that sad for the loss of a couple of careless aerial paparazzi looking to get the ratings up for the 6 O'Clock news. I'm just glad they didn't drop the aircraft on some innocent passerby's head in the process...now that would have been a tragedy.RegardsBob ScottATP IMEL Gulfstream II-III-IV-VSantiago de Chile

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I guess we disagree then Bob. I guess all four aboard those choppers were there to pander to our lust for disaster, just like all who wear turbans must be out to blow up the WTC (note, sarcasm intended)-John

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>I guess we disagree then Bob. I guess all four aboard those>choppers were there to pander to our lust for disaster, just>like all who wear turbans must be out to blow up the WTC>(note, sarcasm intended)There's no analogy in the comparison, John. Inferring that all arabs are terrorists is a fallacy...a broad generalization from the behavior of a few to the behavior of many. But both the crews on both those helicopters were doing exactly what you suggest...pandering...to the public's lust for an exciting voyeuristic look into the misbehavior and misfortune of others. Without that motivation there's no reason for them to be there. Such a story could just as easily be reported without a swarm of news helicopters joining to the fray like flies circling warm doo-doo...but people want to see it to break the boredom of the steady stream of reports on shootings, knifings, rapes, child bondage, and disappearing mothers, etc. Note how little good news seems to make it to the screen...because it doesn't sell.It's a real pain in the butt dealing with the consequences of our love for dirty laundry...when you live in another country, you see how people form opinions of the US based on the most prevalent input they have...what they see on CNN...and it's always a bad news story. Millions of new families are formed in marriages every year, but all we see on the news is a handful of homosexuals getting hitched in San Francisco. Millions of kids are raised by loving parents, and tended to by caring clergy, but all we export to the rest of the world is story after story about the tiny perverted fringe of the incestuous and abusive. How can we expect to export our values...to lead others in the world to want to be like us...when we portray ourselves in the media like that?Anyway, I'm sad to see those lives wasted.RegardsBob ScottATP IMEL Gulfstream II-III-IV-VSantiago de Chile

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Why do you live in Chile anyway if you don't mind me asking? Do you get any grief for being an American down there?Jeff

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>Why do you live in Chile anyway if you don't mind me asking?It's where my employer decided I needed to be.>Do you get any grief for being an American down there?Not for being American. It's not really a question of getting grief, but rather seeing some common and ugly misperceptions people have about the US from watching our TV programming, and especially our news media.And it's not just here in Chile. A few years ago I was waiting for a connecting flight in Nairobi, having a beer at a little bar in the terminal corridor. There was a 13" B&W TV above the bar...and playing on it was none other than the Jerry Springer Show, with a couple of hideously overweight trailer-trashies (mother and daughter, or more aptly, cow and calf) throwing punches after the mother discovered her inbred daughter and fourth husband were making the most of their father-daughter outings or some-such. That's JUST what I want an african traveller to use as a basis of his opinion of American society.RegardsBob ScottATP IMEL Gulfstream II-III-IV-VSantiago de Chile

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>>That's JUST what I want an african traveller to use as a basis of his opinion of American society.<>(mother and daughter, or more aptly, cow and calf)<

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Thanks Bob. That's why I placed the "sarcasm" warning, in my post as I know you would be the last to generalize over someone's race, creed etc... But I perceived your comments as generalizing over the media. I have lived outside of the U.S.--met my wife while living in Latin America. I've seen our country from both sides--actually from an even rarer perspective, as my Godfather was (God rest his soul) from Cuba and we spoke at length about how the U.S. was perceived. Surprisingly, he had a very open mind.My point is you just as you can't generalize about a race, you can't do that when it comes to a profession. My wife's job today is Media Relations Coordinator for one of the school districts here in Phoenix. She works with the media on issues that influence the Latino community. She has met and worked with the staff on Channel 3 and Channel 15, and the other stations here as well. If it was all about greed, they wouldn't donate their time to help communicate to the families in her district. They wouldn't waste airtime on "Amber Alerts". I grew up hearing "All Lawyers are Bad" believing it into adulthood. Until one donated an hour of his time knowing we were from out of town, helping my wife and I get her residency processed. We never saw him again, and trying to tell someone in Phoenix that some lawyer in Reno is responsible for my wife being able to stay in the country for the past dozen years--well, word of mouth wasn't what he was looking for as he knew we'd be long gone. He just wanted to help. I used to think Mortgage Brokers were Robber Barons, until one donated $2000 cash to pay our closing costs after I was called out of the country at close of escrow. I tried to pay him back and he refused. I was sad to see he passed on a few years back, much too young. But I know even some Morgage Brokers have a place in heaven.No profession is perfect, and thus I can't agree that those lives were wasted--I don't know what was in the minds of those aboard the choppers but I don't think it was just the thought of a scoop. What I can appreciate is the respectful way you responded. It's easy to disagree with someone when they articulate rather than attack...Take Care,John

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This is also what out Middle East friends see on their TVs. That and the ultra right wing TV media networks promoting their 'USA is holier than thou editorials' are causing a misconception of what the American public is really like. It makes it easier for fanatical groups to promote their hatred towards us ,(the western world), by showing this garbage and asking, "Is this what you want our society to become?"John M

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