Tragedy Strikes the Action News Family as Chopper 6 Crashes, Killing Longtime Pilot and Photographer

A dark cloud has fallen over the Action News team today. Last night, our beloved Chopper 6 helicopter crashed in a remote wooded area of Washington Township, New Jersey, killing the two crew members on board – a veteran pilot and photographer who were beloved members of the Action News family.

As of now, we are not yet releasing their names publicly out of respect for their grieving families who are only just receiving this devastating news. But we can share that both victims had a long, rich history with Action News, having worked as integral parts of our news gathering team for many years. Their loss leaves a gaping hole in our hearts.

The tragic events unfolded rapidly last night. Chopper 6 had been covering an assignment down the Jersey Shore yesterday evening. At approximately 8 pm, as the helicopter was returning from its mission, it mysteriously dropped off radar and crashed into the dense forest of Wharton State Park. Authorities eventually located the downed aircraft, but it was too late for the two souls onboard.

Right now, details remain scarce about what exactly caused this unspeakable tragedy. The FAA arrived early this morning to begin their investigation, with National Transportation Safety Board officials expected later today to take over the inquiry. For now, all we can do is mourn those two broadcast journalists who lost their lives so suddenly doing what they loved.

Chopper 6 was our eye in the sky, showing us breaking traffic jams, weather events, and critical news as it developed across the region. The 2013 American Eurocopter AS-350A-STAR was leased by our parent company from US Helicopters Inc. out of North Carolina. The helicopter itself showed no signs of mechanical issues or distress, according to authorities.

As the NTSB investigation gears up, state park police have closed access to the crash site perimeter, located near the intersection of Quaker Bridge Road and Mullica River Road inside Wharton State Forest. A debris field spans several hundred yards, illustrating the clear violence with which Chopper 6 met the earth.

While federal inspectors shift through the wreckage for clues, our newsroom is flooded in grief. Chopper 6 was our eye in the sky for over 43 years, showing our viewers scenes they couldn’t otherwise see. That helicopter captured so many of our region’s biggest moments, from Superstorm Sandy’s devastation to the Philadelphia Eagles first Super Bowl Victory Parade. Those onboard captured that iconic footage. They put themselves at risk to show the truth of what was happening across our communities. They told the stories that needed to be told. That’s what makes this loss of two of our own so unfathomably sad.

Here at Action News, we are a family. Coming into viewers’ homes over the years, sharing stories of heartache and joy, bearing witness to the world around us – it bonds you on such a deeper level. This tragedy has shaken us to our very core. Our hearts are broken. Words cannot describe the pain. But we will recover. And we will honor their legacies by continuing to do what they did with such passion for so many years – bring you the news that matters.

A representative from the FAA says a preliminary report will be available within 10 days. Federal investigators are urging any witnesses who may have seen Chopper 6 just prior to the crash to please call the NTSB immediately so they can share what they know.

In times like these, we remember that life is fragile. It can be snatched away without notice. Hug your loved ones tight. And say a prayer tonight for our fallen colleagues whose stories sadly ended far too soon. May they rest in peace as their memory lives on in all the communities they so selflessly served all these years.

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