Officials relase few details in NTSB inviestigation of crash

BY LENA MITCHELL

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

FALKNER – Investigation of the Jan. 5 helicopter crash that took the life of James Archer continues, though away from the Tippah County site where the accident happened.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for the investigation, have not returned repeated calls for information.

However, staff with the Tippah County Sheriff's Department were intimately involved with securing the crash site and providing assistance to federal investigators.

“The investigators examined crash debris, photographed the scene, documented measurements and made preliminary analyses, took field notes and witness statements,” Sheriff Brandon Vance said last week. “It was a painstaking process that they accomplished in cold, wet, muddy weather and over terrible terrain.”

Vance last saw Archer lift off and head west before disappearing over the treetops the night of Jan. 5.

The helicopter was discovered about 5:30 a.m. the next morning, downed in rugged terrain about a mile west of CR 564.

Throughout the crash recovery process Vance said people from his staff took federal officials to the site on four-wheelers, supplied them with two-way radios for communication because there were no cell phone signals, transported food and water to the scene for the workers and generally tried to be as helpful as possible.

A preliminary report filed on the NTSB Web site Jan. 14, provided a brief narrative statement of facts gathered by NTSB investigator Corky Smith of the Southern Regional Office in Atlanta.

An NTSB spokeswoman in the Washington office said it is much too early for any further information to be available.

Only the investigator who has been to the site can say what procedures will be followed to ascertain what caused the fatal crash, she said.

Contact Lena Mitchell at the Corinth Bureau, (662) 287-9822, or lena.mitchell@djournal.com