Chopper Pilot Killed Even As He May Have Saved Others - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Chopper Pilot Killed Even As He May Have Saved Others

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A fiery helicopter crash Wednesday morning killed a popular local man with a history of serving his community, and who had a notable family history of his own.  It happened in Tinicum Township, Bucks County, where retired Pennsylvania State Trooper Doug Brigham lived and worked.  Brigham's chopper went down about 6:30, just a minute or two after lift-off.

The 52-year-old Brigham lost his life just about 500 feet from where he lived on Everbreeze Drive.  In his final moments of life, his family and friends are convinced he was trying to protect his neighbors.  Longtime co-worker and friend Joe Wilson, a retired lieutenant with the Pennsylvania State Police Department, speculated that "Doug saw that there was something catastrophically wrong with his helicopter and he needed to avoid hurting anyone, and he aimed it for that tree line, I believe.  It says a lot about a person," Wilson continued..  "But again, we're not surprised that's what Doug would do."

The chopper crashed and burned in a nearby ravine, just a short distance from the helipad in Brigham's backyard where he had taken off.  "It just sounded like the helicopter was very low, lower than usual," Brigham's neighbor Judy Johnson told Fox 29.  "And then I heard a crash right after it went over the house."  The first responders on scene:  Brigham's own friends at the Delaware Valley Volunteer Fire Company, which he had joined four years ago.  "He was involved with pretty much every aspect that we had here, whether it be with stuff around the building, the grounds, fundraisers, he'd come out on calls, driving the trucks," Batt. Chief Matt Overbeck said about Brigham.  

By mid-day, investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration had arrived to assess the scene.  They couldn't even read the number on the tail of the chopper, because the impact and resulting fire had destroyed it.  Brigham, who was the great-grandson of President Herbert Hoover, was an experienced pilot.  He flew for the Pennsylvania State Police before his retirement a couple of years ago, and since for a private company.  "He was a great guy," Tinicum Township Police Chief James Sabath told Fox 29.  "He was one of the best guys you would ever want to know.  He was always there to help."

It could be some time before FAA investigators and the National Transportation Safety Board figure out the exact cause of the crash.  But they will be looking closely at the possibility of a mechanical failure.  

Brigham leaves behind his wife Lisa.

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