Chopper Crash

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

There are very few reminders left of last week's chopper crash that killed three men in Jackson County. Investigators are continuing to sort out the details, but we are starting to get a clearer picture of the men that died in the tragedy.

The debris may have been removed from the woods this past Friday, but the mystery of what happened in the sky over Jackson County New Year’s Day remains unsolved.

Charred trees and an emergency access road are the only tell-tale signs of what's left of the crash site.

The three-man crew aboard the chopper were heading to Palm Beach, but the pilot, Robert Hall Mason, father and son passengers, Michael Gerald Parker and Michael Ray Parker, never made it.

Authorities believe they may have fallen victim to bad weather.

Major John Dennis of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office says, "They all knew one another . They were from Arkansas and they were bringing the helicopter to turn it over to the owner here in Florida."

Federal investigators completed their on-site investigation Friday. The helicopter's engine and remaining parts were moved out of the woods Friday night.

"About dark or so they moved the remaining part of the helicopter out of the woods to turn it over to the owner. They have completed that. Now they tell us that it will be several months before they get through with the investigation and at that time they will forward a copy of that to us."

The helicopter was being used for hurricane relief efforts in the Hattiesburg, Mississippi area, when it was damaged. Authorities say Mason and the Parkers were most likely killed on impact, but are waiting on toxicology test results to determine the exact cause of death.

Major John Dennis adds, "Now the medical examiners have finished the initial autopsy. But, but the toxicology and things like that take time and the will be able to tell us then. But, right now we don't see any problems other than an accident."

Jackson County authorities say they expect to get the preliminary results from the crash investigation within two to three weeks.


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