McCall, ID – A contract helicopter assigned to fire suppression duties on the Payette National Forest crashed today at approximately 5 p.m., killing the contract pilot and three Payette National Forest employees. The helicopter was ferrying Payette National Forest employees to the Payette National Forest’s Krassel Guard Station before it crashed on the South Fork Salmon River Road about 18 miles west of the town of Yellow Pine.
The crash was reported to the Payette National Forest Dispatch office by a member of the Eastern Area Fire Use Management Team at 5:28 p.m. after he came onto the scene while driving on the South Fork Salmon River Road. The first emergency response was by Payette National Forest firefighters. A Payette National Forest law enforcement officer arrived on the scene soon after and reported no survivors at the crash site.
The names are as follows:
Michael Gene Lewis, Payette National Forest employee, age 37.
Mike spent his entire fire career on the Payette National Forest. He started as a seasonal firefighter on the Weiser Ranger District in 1988, and worked as the Sturgill Lookout on the Payette National Forest in 1992. He moved to the Krassel Helitack operation in 1997.
Monica Lee Zajanc (pronounced, ZIANTS), Payette National Forest employee, age 27.
Monica started her career in the fire organization in 1999 on the Boise National Forest in Garden Valley, Idaho on an Engine Crew. She moved to Lowman, Idaho in 2001 to work on a seven person engine module. In 2003, Monica worked for the Cascade Ranger District on a six person handcrew and then moved to the Payette National Forest in 2004 as a helicopter crewmember on the Krassel Helitack operation.
Quin Stone, Evergreen Helicopter Inc. Employee, age 42.
For further information on Mr. Stone please contact Tim Wahlberg, with Evergreen Helicopter Inc., at (503) 472-9361.
Lillian May Patten, age 32. Lillian was a temporary employee who worked as the Williams Peak Lookout on the Krassel Ranger District for the last six fire seasons.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been notified of the crash and that agency will investigate the cause of the crash.
The helicopter, a single engine A Star AS350B-3, was operated on contract to the Payette National Forest.