Cable severed at deadly helicopter crash site near Greenville

A cable that ran from a utility pole to a home was severed and on the ground to the left and right of the main helicopter wreckage following a fiery June crash that killed a couple near Greenville.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary accident report reveals new details about the June 7 crash of the 1981 Enstrom F-28F used by Charles and Krista Zimmer for agricultural spraying at their family farm in the 5000 block of Hogspath Road in Neave Twp.

ExploreRELATED: Husband dies after helicopter crash that kills wife near Greenville

The morning of the crash, Charles Zimmer, the pilot and registered owner, and his wife, Krista Zimmer, a student pilot, were observed on surveillance video at 9:25 a.m. leaving a hangar three miles from their home, according to a Federal Aviation Administration investigator. Witnesses saw the helicopter flying in the area before the Darke County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at 9:40 a.m. that the helicopter had crashed in the driveway of the couple’s home.

No one saw the crash, and the pilot was not in contact with air traffic control. Also, the flight was not captured on radar nor the helicopter’s onboard flight tracking equipment, the report stated.

Combined ShapeCaption
Crews responded to a fiery and deadly helicopter crash Tuesday, June 7, 2022, on Hogspath Road in Neave Twp. near Greenville in Darke County. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Crews responded to a fiery and deadly helicopter crash Tuesday, June 7, 2022, on Hogspath Road in Neave Twp. near Greenville in Darke County. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Combined ShapeCaption
Crews responded to a fiery and deadly helicopter crash Tuesday, June 7, 2022, on Hogspath Road in Neave Twp. near Greenville in Darke County. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

When deputies arrived, they found the couple trapped and the cockpit on fire, Sheriff Mark Whittaker said. Bystanders and deputies worked together to try to free the victims from the wreckage.

“It was through heroic efforts of deputies who arrived on scene as well as some bystanders who were working hard,” Whittaker said following the crash. “They were using buckets of water from a nearby house and fire extinguishers, trying to beat back the flames while they tried to get the one occupant out.”

Krista Zimmer, 35, was pronounced dead at the scene. Charles Zimmer, 34, was taken by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital in critical condition, Whittaker said. He died two days later on the morning of June 9.

Combined ShapeCaption
Crews were called to a fiery and deadly helicopter crash Tuesday, June 7, 2022, on Hogspath Road in Neave Twp. near Greenville in Darke County. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Crews were called to a fiery and deadly helicopter crash Tuesday, June 7, 2022, on Hogspath Road in Neave Twp. near Greenville in Darke County. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Combined ShapeCaption
Crews were called to a fiery and deadly helicopter crash Tuesday, June 7, 2022, on Hogspath Road in Neave Twp. near Greenville in Darke County. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

ExploreRELATED: Wife killed, husband critically hurt in fiery Darke County helicopter crash

The helicopter came to rest upright, with its skids fully spread. One tail rotor blade was bent about 90 degrees and the other sustained minor damage. The cockpit area was crushed and the windshield was shattered. The tail rotor guard was broken in two sections and found between 20 and 30 feet behind the main wreckage, along with a cargo door, the report stated.

All three main rotor blades remained secured and undamaged and there were no ground scars or impact marks around the main wreckage. However, there was a ½-inch coaxial cable that ran from a power pole on the street directly to the Zimmer’s house found severed on the ground, to the left and right of the main wreckage, according to the report.

A pilot who flew spraying operations in the helicopter told investigators that the Zimmers had planned to fly to the Warren County Airport in Lebanon that day to drop off the helicopter for scheduled maintenance.

Read the full preliminary report:

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