Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 18°C

Search

The pigs have arrived. See the latest

Pigs Gone Wild

news here.

Full report reveals witness accounts of “orange glow” in sky when RAF Lakenheath helicopter crashed in Cley

17:00 28 July 2014

The scene at Cley next the Sea after an American military helicopter crashed and another landed after the incident.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The scene at Cley next the Sea after an American military helicopter crashed and another landed after the incident. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

Witnesses to the fatal Cley US helicopter crash saw an “orange glow” in the sky before the Pave Hawk helicopter fell to the ground, a full investigation report has revealed.

The 1,876 page document, produced by US investigators, includes transcripts of interviews with witnesses that report seeing a flock of geese being scared into the sky, before a “fireball” was spotted by a secondary helicopter crew.

A summarised report released on July 9 confirmed the cause of the crash to be bird strike, after at least three geese smashed through the HH-60’s windscreen.

Captains Christopher S Stover, 28, and Sean M Ruane, 31, Technical Support Sergeant Dale E Mathews, 37, and Staff Sergeant Afton M Ponce, 28. all based at RAF Lakenheath, were killed in the crash.

One witness, a student who had been in the Dun Cow pub just before the incident took place at around 6pm on January 7, said he saw the aircraft scare a flock of geese before impact.

“It literally dropped, like incredibly suddenly. And I could see this orange glow, this orange illumination.

“And it was very quick; I mean so quick that I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“I knew it was a chopper, it must have been a chopper: and thinking about it, my first thoughts were nothing, no mechanical vehicle, could descend that quickly on purpose, so that must have been a crash. And, you know, just watching it I could hardly believe what I had just seen.”

Report into Cley helicopter crash finds US Air Force pilots knocked unconscious by “multiple bird strikes”

Norfolk helicopter crash: How the tragedy unfolded

Cley helicopter tragedy: In memoriam

The majority of witness statements in the report are from US Air Force personnel.

The instructor pilot of the second aircraft on the fatal training mission told investigators that he spotted a small fire on the ground after the HH-60 aircraft did not respond to radio calls.

“I turned the aircraft around, and probably about maybe half a mile behind us you could see a little bit of a fire.

“It wasn’t huge; but it didn’t look like them because it was really small, a real small fire; but I knew that it was them,” he said.

The pilot said that after landing, his crew conducted a search for surivivors.

“The three of us searched for survivors for about 20/30 minutes and eventually found all of them and took pulses, and there were no survivors. And there was not much we could do beyond that.” he said.

The report includes confirmation that the crews would fly in the Cley and Salthouse area frequently, with one witness saying it was as much as “ a couple of times a week”.

It was also confirmed that the crews did not see the flock of geese before they smashed through the aircraft’s windscreen, causing the crash.

The impact of the crash site on USAF clean-up crews is also documented in the findings, with reports of crew members almost fainting as they struggled to deal with the scene.

A videographer is said to have “slumped over” as she recorded footage of the bodies being removed from the aircraft, while medical crews were said to be left stunned by the aftermath.

The report was released after a Freedom of Information Act request by the BBC.

Do you have a story for us? Let us know by emailing newsdesk@archant.co.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ipswich Star visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ipswich Star staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ipswich Star account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Dementia friendly pub, the Hadleigh Ram

A Hadleigh pub has been rewarded for its efforts to become accessible to all by being named the first dementia friendly restaurant in the town.

Eastbound A14 traffic near the Copdock junction. Image: Keith Mindham

Drivers are currently experiencing long delays after a car crashed into the central reservation on the A14 eastbound at Nacton this evening.

Suffolk Police PCSOs (stock picture)

Two new PCSOs will be patrolling the streets of Bury St Edmunds from next January in a new step for local policing.

File picture of a car fire.

Firefighters were called to reports of three cars alight at a garage in Ipswich.

Andy Beckwith

A former Essex man who went missing in Gibraltar has been found “in good health”, police have said.

Police at the Ipswich v Norwich derby.

Suffolk Constabulary has yet to confirm it will have a presence at Ipswich Town games this season - including the potentially powderkeg Old Farm Derby.

A motorist involved in a crash on the A14 in which a teenager died will live with the “huge remorse” for the rest of his life, a court has heard.

Relax and unwind

When the weather is as glorious as this, you want to do nothing more than sit back and relax.

St Helena Hospice assistant nurse Emma Young reduced staff and patients to tears in Colchester after performing Adele's Make You Feel My Love. Pic: St Helena Hospice.

A video of an assistant nurse performing an Adele song at a Colchester hospice has gone viral.

Hugh O'Neill, headteacher of St Benedict's School, Bury St Edmunds.

Turbulent times are ahead for Bury St Edmunds schools with “chaos” predicted as the two and three-tier systems compete against each other.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24