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Two People are Killed in Helicopter Crash in Gulf of Mexico Near Florida

Two photographers died on Tuesday when the helicopter that they were riding in for work fell into the Gulf of Mexico close to Casey Key. Thomas Newby, 50, was Powerboat Magazine’s chief photographer. Mark Copeland, 44, was an Emmy-winning video photographer. The two men had been photographing a model riding a speeding Cigar Boat on the Gulf. The pilot of the helicopter, 44-year-old Mark A. Watters, was critically injured in the accident. According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the helicopter's skids may have grazed the water, resulting in it overturning and falling into the Gulf just one mile from shore. Boats operated by the Sheriff’s Office, the Sarasota Police Department, the Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife, and the sheriff’s helicopter all searched the area for survivors. All three victims were taken by boat to the Crow’s Nest restaurant on Venice Island. Copeland and Newby died by the time the arrived at the island. Watters was flown to Bayfront Medical Center. He has 20 years experience working as a military helicopter pilot and is known for his ability to fly at high speeds at low altitudes for racing photography purposes. The model and the boat’s driver were not injured in the helicopter accident, but debris from the helicopter struck the boat and caused damage. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the accident to determine whether it was caused by human error or mechanical failure, such as component part failure, engine failure, and loss of the main rotor control. Statistically, up to 85% of helicopter crashes are caused by human-related factors. At least 10% of helicopter accidents can be attributed to material failures. Aviation accidents frequently lead to serious injury or wrongful death. While worker’s compensation benefits prevents an employee that is injured or killed on the job from suing an employer, the injury victim or the survivors of the deceased may have grounds to sue any third liability parties, such as the manufacturer of the airplane or helicopter, the aviation company, or third-party contractor, for personal injury or wrongful death. Some common causes of helicopter crashes: • Unqualified or inexperienced pilot • Pilot negligence or error • Mechanical failure • Overloaded helicopter • Defective or malfunctioning rotor gear box, turbine head, intermediate gear box, and other parts • Breach of warranty Helicopter crash in Gulf kills 2, HeraldTribune.com, September 12, 2007 Related Web Resources: Helicopter Crashes During Magazine Photo Shoot, Powerboat Magazine If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in an airplane or helicopter accident in Florida, do not hesitate to call the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of John D. Ameen, P.A., PA today. We offer a free consultation to all prospective clients.