Governor orders flags be flown at half staff following fatal helicopter crash
SALMON – In the wake of a helicopter crash on the Salmon River that killed two pilots, Governor Brad Little is ordering flags be flown at half-staff.
Thomas Hayes, 41, of Post Falls and Jared Bird, 36, of Anchorage, Alaska were killed in a crash Thursday afternoon while assisting firefighters battling the Moose Fire about five miles southwest of North Fork near Salmon inside Salmon-Challis National Forest.
Both of them were employees of ROTAK Helicopter services, decorated veterans and highly experienced pilots.
Earlier Friday, the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office reported the pilots died from their injuries after being cut out of the aircraft and taken to the hospital.
The crashed helicopter is still in the river, according to MTN News in Montana. Details of the crash have not been released, pending an investigation from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Forest Service.
In a news release from the governor’s office Friday afternoon, Gov. Little expresses his condolences for the tragic loss.
“Our hearts are heavy with the news that we lost two firefighters,” Little says. “Our brave firefighters face extremely challenging conditions head on to protect lives, property, and the land. Idahoans are praying for the loved ones and colleagues of these firefighters as we grieve this tremendous loss. This tragedy will be deeply felt by the families and by the wildland firefighting community.”
Both the U.S. and state flags will be flown at half staff at the Boise Capitol building in their memory until further notice. Gov. Little is ordering the same thing for other government buildings throughout the state.
The flags will be presented to the pilots’ families following a memorial service, which has not yet been announced.
“We are devastated by this incredible loss,” Ely Woods, General Manager of ROTAK Helicopter Services, wrote in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com. “Tommy and Jared represented the absolute best our country has to offer. Our hearts go out to their families, friends and loved ones.”
Additional details will be provided as they are released. Stay with EastIdahoNews.com for the latest information.