It will be months before investigators know the cause of Wednesday’s helicopter crash that injured an Arkansas National Guard pilot and an Arkansas State Police trooper, a military official said Thursday.
A team from Camp Robinson in North Little Rock spent Thursday afternoon on a Carroll County hillside combing the crash site for clues, Arkansas National Guard Maj. Keith Moore said. Investigators had not interviewed the pilot, Maj. Tim Dickinson, or Trooper Andy Wiley by Thursday afternoon, he said.
The two men were part of a multiagency team searching for marijuana plants Wednesday when the OH-58 A Kiowa helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff from Carroll County Airport in Berryville.
Dickinson, 36, of Little Rock was listed in fair condition Thursday at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.
Wiley, 51, of Alma was listed in fair condition Thursday at North- west Medical Center-Springdale, hospital officials said.
Dickinson is the son of state Rep. Tommy Dickinson, D-Newport, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The investigation team will disassemble the helicopter and use interviews with Dickinson and Wiley to reconstruct what happened.
The helicopter will be taken back to Camp Robinson, but it had not been removed from the crash site as of Thursday afternoon.
“They are going to try to be very thorough,” Moore said.
Maintenance records for the helicopter were not available Thursday.
The Arkansas National Guard has 23 helicopters, including four OH-58 s.
“The team might keep those [maintenance ] records as part of their investigation,” Moore said.
Dickinson and Wiley were in one of two helicopters flying Wednesday in the joint drug investigation by the Guard, state police, U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Carroll County sheriff’s office. They had been flying about 30 minutes when the helicopter went down. Dickinson attempted to land the helicopter in a clearing after experiencing some sort of trouble, Moore said. “It looks like flat land from the air, but when you get down there you realize it’s actually at an angle,” Moore said. Wiley was able to get out of the helicopter after the crash and called 911 from his cell phone, Moore said. Dickinson was inside the aircraft when the other helicopter made an emergency landing nearby. “[Dickinson ] was alert and talking to them,” Moore said. Both men were airlifted from the crash site, he said.