Helicopter crash near Raton, N.M. claims life of Zimbabwe opposition leader and others

New Mexico State Police are reporting that a Bell UH-1 helicopter crash east of Raton, New Mexico has killed Roy Bennett, a Zimbabwean opposition leader.

Also killed in the crash were 55-year-old Eileen Bennett, pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd of Trinidad, Colorado, co-pilot Paul Cobb of Conroe, Texas, and Charles Ryland Burnett of Houston, Texas. One passenger survived the crash and was able to call for help.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating the cause of the crash. Although the process of examining the wreckage, reviewing records, and interviewing witnesses may be lengthy, more details are expected to come to light in the early stages of the investigation.

“The helicopter crash investigators will look at all aspects of this terrible crash, including the pre-flight and in-flight condition of the helicopter, as well as other factors such as weather and the pilots’ decision making,” said Mark Pierce, a prominent aviation attorney and commercial-rated pilot. “The international political component will be looked at as well,” Pierce said.

Mark Pierce is a Texas-based aviation safety advocate who has handled numerous cases involving New Mexico fatalities and injuries. Most recently, he was lead counsel in a case for a patient who was killed in a air ambulance flight in a twin-engine Cessna airplane  that crashed near the Las Cruces, New Mexico airport because of mis-fueling of the aircraft by ground personnel.

Records indicate that the crash occurred just south of the Colorado state line, so any legal action related to the crash falls within the jurisdiction of New Mexico law as well as federal aviation regulations.

— Pierce Sauer PLLC 2018

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