Chopper crash victims recovered; investigation starts | Inquirer News

Chopper crash victims recovered; investigation starts

HEROES Military honors are given to victims of the chopper crash at the Lumbia Airfield in Cagayan de Oro City on Sunday. —PHOTO COURTESY OF THE 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION

CAGAYAN DE ORO—The military has recovered the bodies of all the passengers of an ill-fated Bell UH-1H that crashed on the edge of a rice field in the mountains of Bukidnon at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Troops of the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion reached the crash site at Sitio Nahigit in Barangay Bulonay of Impasug-ong town late Saturday afternoon and found the wreckage of the helicopter, according to Lt. Col. Edgardo Talaroc Jr., the battalion commander.


“The bodies of the pilots, crew and soldiers were still strapped [to] their seats but were badly mangled,” he said, adding that six of the bodies were inside the downed helicopter while the seventh was found a few meters away.


Maj. Rodulfo Cordero Jr., spokesperson for the 4th Infantry Division, identified the fatalities as Lt. Col. Arnie Arroyo, the pilot; his copilot, 2Lt. Mark Anthony Caabay and crewmen Sgt. Melven Bersabe and A1C Stephen Agarrado. Also killed in the crash were Army Sgt. Julius Salvado and militiamen Jerry Ayocdo and Jhamel Sugalang.

Talaroc said the helicopter was ferrying supplies, ammunition and troops from the 403rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Malaybalay City to forward bases in the Pantaron mountain range when it crashed.

The crashed chopper, with tail number 517, was one of two that had already flown two missions earlier that day.

“The choppers carried the food supplies and ammo on the first two missions. They were carrying troops for replacements on their last and fatal mission,” Talaroc said.

Talaroc said the crew of the second helicopter advised the forward helicopter that smoke was coming out of its engine as it was hovering over Barangay Bulonay.

The forward chopper’s pilot then advised that they would turn back, but “the chopper nosedived” as it turned.


The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has dispatched a team from its 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing to investigate the cause of the crash, Lt. Col. Aristides Galang Jr., spokesperson for the PAF, said. He added that all aircraft, “undergo strict, regular, and redundant maintenance inspections before and after flight missions.”

Galang also said the PAF “will provide all necessary assistance and financial aid [to] the bereaved families.”

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The Air Force has had extensive experience flying and maintaining the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, nicknamed Huey, since it had received a number of these helicopters from the United States and local aviators have gained considerable skill in flying and refurbishing the helicopters. INQ


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