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2 killed, 1 injured in Monroe County helicopter crash

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 10 2012 04:20:51 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 11 2012 05:01:52 AM CDT

Helicopter crash in Monroe Co. kills 2

COOLBAUGH TWP., Pa. -

Imagine the excitement of chartering a helicopter from New York City to make a golf outing upstate.  That excitement turned to terror when the crew tried to return home.

Police say bad weather caused their chartered helicopter to crash in the Poconos.

"Upon discovery of the crash site we found three victims inside the aircraft," Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis said.

The Monroe County coroner said two men, William Ellsworth, from Hunterdon County, N.J., the chopper's pilot, and the front seat passenger Tighe Sullivan, 51, of Connecticut, died in the crash. A third man, Stephen Barral, of Somerset County, N.J., is in critical condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

"Last night the weather was very poor, the visibility very poor, it was raining," Lewis said.

The men were returning from a golf outing in Elmira, New York back to New York City. Police say the helicopter crashed just before 8 Tuesday night. Authorities got the call two hours later that the chopper was missing. The wreckage was found at 2:30 Wednesday morning in a heavily wooded area off of I-380 near Tobyhanna in Monroe County.

"Shortly before the crash, the survivor of the crash was communicating with the owner of the aircraft indicating an attempt to escape from the weather and go to Mt. Pocono," Lewis said.

But the crew never made it, crashing just one mile from the Mt. Pocono Municipal Airport. Police say the U.S. Air Force tracked Stephen Barral's cell phone signal to the crash site.

"Could have been following the interstate due to weather conditions," Lewis said about the aircraft's flight path.

Prior to the crash a fourth passenger was dropped off in Wilkes-Barre, never suspecting he had just escaped possible death. 

We still don't know exactly what happened and why the helicopter went down.

The FAA and the NTSB are investigating.  It could take a year before their findings are released.