Friday, July 27 2007, two local TV station helicopters in Phoenix AZ, collided and crashed into a grassy park while covering a police chase on the ground. All four aboard the helicopters died but fortunately, no one else was injured.
Police were chasing Christopher J Jones, 23 while he was driving a flatbed pickup and just before the collision, he had jumped out of that nearly disabled vehicle and carjacked another truck. He was later captured by the SWAT team after he had barricaded himself within a home.
There will be an investigation into how the two helicopters collided and crashed. Mike at the Lamplighter has a very good explaination of what could very well have happened to them. Jones right now, was booked into jail on two counts of vehicle theft, four counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest and other charges against him are expected. Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris has suggested that Jones may also "be held responsible for any of the deaths from this tragedy."
As tragic as this crash is, I do not understand how Jones can be held liable for deaths that occured, quite possibly from pilot error while they were doing their job. I can certainly understand if he had been shooting directly at the helicopters or doing something else directly to them to cause the collision. They were doing their job of reporting news and quite possibly, misjudged their distance. If two photographers were covering a ground fire and one slipped into a culvert and was injured, I think it is a very long legal stretch to blame the event they were covering for the injury, that photographer simply misjudged the distance to the edge and slipped........ part of the job. Either way, it was very fortunate that no one else was injured by the crash, when it certainly seems that there was a very real possibility of it happening.