Cochise County Sheriff’s helicopter goes down, 2 killed

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.

Related article: Cochise County helicopter crash victim was retired Glendale Police officer

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.


  1. Why was this helicopter flying in this weather? One Air West helicopter crash in September; thankfully the pilot and LEO survived. Now this deadly crash! Air West has some serious explaining to do. Also, time for Cochise County Sheriff to look for another helicopter leasing company. Prayers to the families.

  2. When I was on active duty many thought about going and flying on the ‘outside’. They thought that they knew all there is to know and that they could get the big bucks. Unfortunately this is not true. Helicopter pilots do not make that much $$ on the outside. I knew several that tried and returned to the army for better pay. I also know a guy that retired from the army and was making $1500 month as a crop duster! I read an article once about a guy flying for DPS up in the grand canyon area. There were restrictions about the winds and flying into the canyon when there were shadows cast across it. The guy got a call and followed procedures and would not fly into the canyon due to winds and shadows. The article went on to say that the guy was replaced the next day! You often read about medical helicopters crashing particularly back east. Trying to scud run and hit wires or antennas just to get through. I did this while on AD and it was no fun looking up at lights on the highway as you tried to carry someone to a hospital. These are not like ambulances, you just cant pull over and park any where.

    So the bottom line is for flying in weather as we had yesterday is JOB SECURITY. Just think if DPS pushed you to the limit, what do you think these private outfits do? I dont really miss this kind of stuff and one time I had a crew member tell me “she enjoyed being with me as I would not take missions into questionable weather”. I once told the senior pilot of the unit he could have the keys and go when I turned down a mission for weather (embedded T-storms), but he would go by himself. Guess what he didn’t go either!

  3. So far the comments reflect the first question I had about this situation. What could have been so important that they were flying in the weather we were experiencing yesterday. Do all pilots think they are blessed as invincible? What a waste. If someone ORDERED them to make that flight without an emergency should be at least terminated and at best prosecuted for Manslaughter. Just say’s.

    Of course no government employee is ever held responsible for bad acts. SAD

  4. Heard them fly by J-6/mescal at 6:44 pm. At first I thought it was a medi-vac landing at the heliport behind my house, then I thought, “nobody is flying in this pea soup (low cloud ceiling) and dismissed it as a semi-truck jake-braking on the freeway. This sucks.

  5. My son in law is an Apache pilot in the Army in So Korea. they fly in “muck” all the time. Preparation…

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