2 Edison Employees Killed in Helicopter Crash Near Somis
From a Times Staff Writer
September 7, 2006
A Southern California Edison pilot and a troubleshooter were killed Wednesday afternoon when the helicopter they were in crashed near Somis after it got tangled in high-voltage wires they were inspecting.
Authorities said the crash occurred shortly before 2 p.m. in Solano Verde Ranch, a residential area in an unincorporated area of Ventura County north of Camarillo.
The pilot was identified as Benny Kleven, 41, of Temecula. He joined the company in June with 22 years of flight experience, said Rudy Gonzales, an Edison regional manager.
The passenger was identified as Keith King, 48, of Ojai. The 28-year Edison employee was based in the Ventura Service Center.
The Hughes 369D helicopter had taken off earlier from the Ventura facility. The men were conducting a routine inspection of power lines.
"We've got 50,000 square miles of territory and some of our facilities are in remote locations," Gonzales said.
"We use helicopters to monitor them, which is more efficient than trying to reach the lines by truck."
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the accident. FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the helicopter was built in 1980.
Helicopter crash kills 2 Edison employees
BY BRENT HOPKINS, Staff Writer, Daily News
The tail of a helicopter lies on Sence Ranch on Coyote Canyon Road near Moorpark. The helicopter crashed after hitting power lines, killing two people. (Tina Burch / Staff Photographer)
SOMIS - Two Southern California Edison employees were killed Wednesday when their helicopter slammed into a power line and crashed to the ground, officials said.
The pilot, 41-year-old Benny Kleven of Temecula, and another employee, 48-year-old Keith King of Ojai, were inspecting high-tension lines in the hills above the gated community of Solano Verde Ranch about 1:55 p.m., when their Hughes 369D chopper struck the wires. The aircraft crashed near some horse trailers parked below, killing both men.
"It's a very tragic and sad day when you lose two employees doing their work," said Edison spokesman Steven Conroy.
"Our focus is on the families and communicating what we can do during this very difficult period. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them."
The aircraft, built in 1980, was based in Ontario and regularly conducted wide-sweeping investigations of rural power lines for signs of disrepair.
Though the crash was violent enough to scatter debris hundreds of feet away in nearby horse corrals and leaked a significant amount of fuel, Ventura County Fire Capt. Barry Parker said there were no flames or fire.
"Every time a helicopter lifts off, there's a possibility it could fall out of the sky," Parker said.
Prior to the crash, the helicopter exhibited no signs of trouble, according to Steve Tripp, a construction worker grading
a nearby hill. He described seeing a striking green, yellow and black chopper hovering overhead, then disappearing from view.
"I heard it all - they went up, went down and pow!" Tripp said. "I was working under the power line, so I threw all my stuff in my truck and jammed out of there to see what happened ... The thing was so mangled up when it crashed, you couldn't even see what happened to the people."
Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were dispatched to the scene, but circumstances surrounding the crash remained unclear.
"Stuff was falling out of the sky like crazy today," said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman. "Some guy landed a Piper Cub in a field up in Malibu and walked away all right."
The latter incident occurred mid-afternoon near Trancas Canyon without injuries or damage.
Edited by Robert F, 07 September 2006 - 05:39 AM.