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story.lead_photo.caption A helicopter on Monday hovers close to the site of Sunday’s fatal crash near Mulberry Mountain.

OZARK -- Investigators have not determined the cause of a helicopter crash that killed three people Sunday outside a music festival near Mulberry Mountain, officials said.

The Arkansas State Police said four people were aboard the sightseeing Robinson R44 helicopter when it crashed. The agency responded about 7 p.m. Sunday to find the aircraft in rural Franklin County, said Bill Sadler, spokesman.

"The wreckage was located by search-and-rescue officials after the aircraft was reported overdue from a trip," Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, wrote in an email Monday.

An Arkansas State Police spokesman said the helicopter was found about 500 yards south of the festival grounds on Mulberry Mountain.

Pilot Chuck Dixon of Tulsa; Sarah Hill of Austin, Texas; and Marco Ornelas of Mexico died in the crash, said Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen. The lone survivor, Zachary Peterson of Omaha, Neb., was airlifted to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa and was in critical condition as of Monday afternoon.

The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation. An investigator with the safety board was at the scene Monday, said Peter Knudson, spokesman.

Christopher O'Neil with the safety board said investigators usually spend three to 10 days at the site of an accident, and it will likely take about 10 business days before the agency has a preliminary report on its findings.

The board's process will include investigating whether the cause of the accident was weather- and/or mechanical-related, for example, O'Neil said. The board does not speculate what factors could have caused the accident, he said.

Tulsa County Helicopters, an Oklahoma-based company, had been giving tours for people at the Backwoods Music Festival last weekend near the Mulberry Mountain Resort, north of Ozark. Tony Vann, spokesman for the company, declined to make a comment Monday afternoon and said the company would release a statement at a later time.

Mulberry Mountain, which had hosted the Wakarusa festival for several years, is a popular site for multiday camping and music events. The three-day Backwoods festival featured dozens of acts, including Rezz, a Canadian DJ, and the band Umphrey's McGee.

Numerous social media reports stated the final hours of the festival were canceled Sunday evening.

Information for this report was provided by Youssef Rddad of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and staff members of The Associated Press.

Metro on 06/04/2019

Print Headline: 3 people killed in crash of sightseeing helicopter near Arkansas music festival


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Archived Comments

  • MaxCady
    June 4, 2019 at 11:59 a.m.

    With so many moving parts on a helicopter you can almost bet that a critical part broke causing it to fall from the sky without sufficient height or velocity for autorotation.