The Cochise County Sheriff’s Department has reported that a helicopter crashed in a remote area killing two employees assigned to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday December 31, 2014 in the afternoon hours.
Cochise Air was returning from the Phoenix area back to the Sierra Vista airport in Cochise County after routine maintenance. The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the leasing company shortly before 7:00 pm and advised that they had lost communications with Cochise Air near the Benson area. Tracking software was activated and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team responded to the general area along with Benson Fire and Medics in an attempt to locate the aircraft.
Search and Rescue personnel were able to trace the cell phone of the pilot which ultimately led to a more narrowed search area south of Interstate 10 outside of Benson. At approximately 9:20 pm, the Benson Fire Department advised that they had located the crash site of Cochise Air and located the two occupants (one pilot and one mechanic) who were deceased at the scene.
The National Transportation and Safety Board was notified about this incident and are responding to conduct an investigation along with the Sheriff’s Office assistance.
Sheriff Mark Dannels said tonight, “This news leaves me personally, and this organization with a heavy heart because of the tragic loss of two incredible lives. We have worked closely with this company and these two individuals since receiving Cochise Air and knowing that they are considered part of the Sheriff’s Office family makes this so much harder. We send our condolences out to the families of two people who will truly be missed.”
Cochise Air is the helicopter that is leased by the Sheriff’s Office for use in law enforcement and public safety missions. As part of the lease for the aircraft, a pilot and mechanical crew are assigned to the Sheriff’s Office in a civilian capacity.