NTSB Identification: FTW91LA048.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 44323.
Accident occurred Thursday, March 07, 1991 in HIGH ISLAND, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/1993
Aircraft: BELL 206B II, registration: N59491
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE MISSION WAS TO LOCATE AND MARK A DOWNED HELICOPTER FLOATING INVERTED OFFSHORE. A CREWMAN WAS LOWERED BY A NYLON STRAP TO ATTACH THE MARKER BOUY. AS DARKNESS SET IN, THE CREWMAN SIGNALED TO COME BACK ABOARD. THE OTHER OBSERVER THREW THE NYLON STRAP TO THE CREWMAN ON THE FLOATING HELICOPTER. THE INBOARD END OF THE STRAP WAS ATTACHED TO A SEAT BELT ANCHOR POINT. DURING THE RETRIEVAL THE CREWMAN RELEASED HIS HOLD ON THE STRAP AND FELL INTO THE WATER. DURING THE SUBSEQUENT SEARCH ACTIVITY THE CREWMAN WAS FOUND DROWNED. THE PILOT SUBSEQUENTLY REPORTED A LOW FUEL STATE TO THE PARTICIPATING U.S.COAST GUARD HELICOPTER AND RETURNED TOWARD GALVESTON. AS HE ARRIVED OVER THE BEACH THE PILOT EXPERIENCED A LOSS OF DIRECTIONAL CONTROL AND AUTOROTATED TO A HARD LANDING. THE NYLON STRAP THAT HAD BEEN LEFT HANGING OUTSIDE THE HELICOPTER HAD BECOME ENTANGLED AROUND THE TAIL ROTOR SHEARING THE DRIVE SHAFT.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

FOR OCCURRENCE #1 - INADEQUATE SUPERVISION BY THE OPERATOR IN LAUNCHING A HAZARDOUS MISSION WITHOUT AN ADEQUATE SLING/HARNESS, THE PILOT'S POOR JUDGEMENT IN ACCEPTING AND CONTINUING THE MISSION INTO LOW LIGHT CONDITIONS, AND THE CREWMEMBER'S INADVERTENT RELEASE OF HIS HOLD OF THE NYLON STRAP. FOR OCCURRENCES #2-4 - FAILURE OF THE TAIL ROTOR DRIVE SHAFT AS A RESULT OF ENTANGLEMENT OF AN UNSECURED NYLON STRAP.

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