A helicopter flight carrying two Forest Service employees and a pilot under contract with the agency yesterday afternoon crashed in southeast Texas. Charles Edgar, fire management officer on the Sabine National Forest, John Greeno, Bald Mountain heliport manager with the Mi-Wok Ranger District on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, and José Victor Gonzalez, a pilot with the Brainerd Company in Minnesota, all perished in the crash. The Forest Service employees were conducting a prescribed burning operation in the Sabine National Forest.
“I am deeply saddened by this tragedy. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family, friends and loved ones of Forest Service employees Charles Edgar and John Greeno. I know that the loss of these individuals is also devastating for the Sabine and Stanislaus coworkers of Charles and John. The Forest Service family is thinking of them during this very difficult time. I also want to extend my compassion and sympathy with the family, friends and loved ones of pilot José Victor Gonzalez.
“The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading the investigation into the cause of the crash. The Forest Service will cooperate fully with NTSB, the government’s chief investigative unit for accidents involving aircraft. In addition, the Forest Service has begun an administrative review to learn from what happened and to improve our safety procedures for the future.”