Fatal Bell 206L Helicopter Crash with 4 Occupants Near Wainwright, Alaska
July 24, 2023
All four people aboard a Bell 206L LongRanger IV helicopter were tragically killed on July 20, 2023, when the aircraft they were traveling on crashed near Wainwright, Alaska - north of the Arctic Circle. Three of the occupants were scientists working for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and the 4th occupant was the pilot of the aircraft. The wreckage was found near Wainwright, which is about 50 miles south of Utqiagvik, AK — the northernmost city in the United States, known as Barrow, Alaska until it was renamed in 2016.
The helicopter, a Bell 206L LongRanger IV, registry number N311MH, was registered to Maritime Helicopters, Inc. in Homer, Alaska. The helicopter was manufactured in 1996 and equipped with an Allison or Rolls Royce M250-C230P engine.
Learn more about Kreindler’s Leading Helicopter Accident Law Practice.
Kreindler Aviation Attorneys and Pilots
Our staff of attorneys includes four commercially licensed helicopter pilots and one former helicopter maintenance specialist (who is also a graduate of the NTSB Accident Investigation Course). Partner Brian Alexander is a veteran Army helicopter pilot and a graduate of the Army Accident Investigation Course. Kreindler partner Justin Green is a veteran Marine helicopter pilot with combat experience in the Persian Gulf and a graduate of the Navy Postgraduate School’s Aviation safety course. Also pictured is Kreindler partner Dan Rose - who served in the Navy as a carrier-based attack pilot on board the U.S.S. Independence.
Kreindler’s Experience with Bell Helicopter Crashes
Kreindler’s history litigating helicopter crash cases includes those in which we’ve proven liability based on negligent operations, maintenance, product defects, and a combination of these factors. Many of these tragic cases have involved complex product liability actions.
Our successful Bell Helicopter crash cases include:
- Bell 206B3 Heli-Ski Crash, President & CEO of Walt Disney Co., Ruby Mountains, NV
- Bell 206L-3 LongRanger Helicopter, Llewellyn Glacier
- Bell 412 Helicopter Crash in Jamaica Bay, New York
- Bell 206B3 Helicopter Crash in Lamoille, Nevada
- Bell 206L LongRanger Helicopter Crash Near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Other notable helicopter cases Kreindler has successfully prosecuted include:
- Airbus/Eurocopter AS350B2 “Doors Off” Helicopter Crash in East River, NY
- Royal Netherlands Air Force Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crash
- Sikorsky MH-53E Crash Near Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy
- Eurocopter AS350B2 Helicopter Crash Near Meadview, Arizona
- Eurocopter Aerospatiale Helicopter Crash Near Iao Valley, Kahului, Hawaii
- Eurocopter BK-117, Colgate-Palmolive Executive, East River, NY
The Flight Path
Available flight data shows the path the Bell 206L-4 LongRanger IV helicopter took before the fatal crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has begun an investigation into the crash of the Bell 206L helicopter.
Overcoming Worker’s Comp Insurance Issues
Whenever feasible, defense attorneys may try and limit their client’s exposure by claiming that a victim’s claims are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In an ongoing case involving an emergency medical flight, Kreindler attorneys Dan Rose and Vincent Lesch defeated an attempt by the defense attorneys to apply workers’ compensation limits to the case. Additionally, attorneys Rose and Lesch succeeded in unraveling a complicated corporate shell structure regarding the ownership and operation of the involved aircraft.
In the Media
An AP News report described the complications and issues in obtaining the commercial helicopter that will be required to raise the wreckage of the Bell 206L chopper. The chief of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska region, Clint Johnson cited fire season as the main factor prohibiting the availability of commercial helicopters at this time.
General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA)
General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA) is a tort reform measure that was passed by Congress in 1994 that limits the amount of time manufacturers can be held liable for accidents involving aircraft that are 18 years or older at the time of the accident. While this statute of repose can protect manufacturers from liability, there are some exceptions to the rules. While GARA was meant to address the impact of extended product liability on general aviation aircraft manufacturers, it doesn’t completely shield manufacturers from responsibility. There are situations where manufacturers can be held liable for accidents involving their products and Kreindler attorneys have successfully overcome this measure.
About Kreindler & Kreindler
Kreindler is the preeminent aircraft accident law firm in the world and works with the country’s leading experts in helicopter operations, maintenance, aerodynamics, and design. Our helicopter accident attorneys have investigated and uncovered the causes or contributing factors to numerous helicopter crashes, even in cases where the official government investigation failed to do so, or came to mistaken conclusions. Kreindler aviation accident cases have resulted in many of the highest plaintiffs’ recoveries on record.