Brim helicopter that crashed in Texas was nearly out of fuel

A helicopter owned by Ashland-based Brim Aviation that crashed Nov. 27 near Childress, Texas, killing one man, had only 20 ounces of fuel on board, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board said.

The Hughes 369D rotorcraft's operating manual requires the helicopter to maintain a minimum of about two gallons of fuel, said Mitchell Gallo, the NTSB air safety investigator who is leading the investigation.

Gallo said the helicopter's auxiliary fuel tank was empty.

"One of the things we know is that the amount of fuel onboard was below that which was usable," Gallo said.

Gallo said the cause of the crash has yet to be determined, but "there was a loss of engine power."

Gallo said it could take up to a year before the investigation is complete.

According to the Amarillo Globe-News, Jonathan David Suhr, 23, who was living in McLean, Texas, was suspended about 50 feet below the helicopter hanging a roller conductor lifter on a power line when the helicopter crashed.

Suhr, who is originally from Hayden, Idaho, an online obituary and Facebook indicated, died at Childress Regional Medical Center as a result of the crash, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The helicopter, which was hovering about 150 feet off the ground, was piloted by Keith Hard, 42, of Butte County, Calif., the Globe-News reported. Hard was taken to Childress Regional Medical Center for back injuries.

Since the incident, numerous telephone messages left at Brim Aviation's Ashland office have not been returned.

Brim employees who were reached declined to comment on the crash.

— Sam Wheeler

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