Report: Former ANTHC CEO was heading to Kodiak to be with family before helicopter crash
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A new National Transportation Safety Board report is shedding light on what happened in the lead-up to a helicopter crash that presumably took the life of former chairman and president of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Andy Teuber.
The NTSB report says that on the evening of March 2, a black and white Robinson R66 with the tail number N1767 – which was being piloted by Teuber – crashed into the ocean about 70 miles north of Kodiak. Though an extensive search was conducted immediately following the incident, only debris from the helicopter has been found since.
According to the NTSB report, Teuber’s wife said Teuber had requested the use of the helicopter from a company employee to make a day trip to see family located in Kodiak. He then went to the Merrill Field Airport.
The report goes on to say that once there, a pilot for Kodiak Helicopters – a company owned by Teuber and his wife – said that he had a brief conversation with Teuber while he was unloading his personal gear from the helicopter. The pilot said Teuber didn’t seem like himself and appeared to be distracted.
“Just before departure, the accident pilot commented to the Kodiak Helicopters pilot that he wanted to be in Kodiak,” the report said, “and with his family when a local news story involving him was scheduled to publish.”
The report also sheds light on where the helicopter went down. A real-time tracking system shows the helicopter disappearing about 90 minutes into the flight over open water near the Barren Islands. The report said the weather at that time was unknown, but the NTSB is still interested in talking to pilots who may have been in the area near the time of the crash – around 3:30 p.m. on March 2 – who may have information on conditions.
According to the NTSB, the Kodiak Helicopters pilot also said he was able to view the helicopter’s en route progress via a real-time tracking system. At approximately 3:59 p.m., the helicopter’s data stopped in an area south of the Barren Islands, over open ocean waters.
Clint Johnson, Chief Regional Investigator for the NTSB, said the agency also hired a Human Performance Investigator from Washington, D.C., to try and determine more about what Teuber was experiencing in the 72 hours before the crash.
“What was the state of mind? What were the sleep habits?” Johnson said. “Were there any medical issues that could have played a part in this? At this point right now, there was nothing that was earth-shattering that came up.”
Johnson said the lack of wreckage may make it impossible to know what really caused the crash but he added that investigators are looking at the crash at an accident and not a suicide.
“We have not got any information that would lead us to believe anything other than that,” Johnson said. “However, the investigation is continuing.”
Although searchers did find a small amount of debris that was confirmed to have come from Teuber’s helicopter, Johnson said they never received a signal from an emergency locator beacon.
“The fact is, there was no signal that was transmitted,” said Johnson. “Whether it was off, malfunctioned, in the water, we just don’t know. Again, there’s a lot of unknowns in this, because we don’t have any wreckage to look at, unfortunately.”
According to the NTSB, the USCG also stated that an emergency locator transmitter beacon was not received from the accident helicopter.
When the signal stopped transmitting is around the time when the NTSB says the family notified the Federal Aviation Administration, which in turn immediately launched a search. During the search, which involved the United States Coast Guard, an inflated yellow pop-out float believed to be from the accident helicopter was found. The search went on until the next day, when it was then suspended.
The NTSB report also says that days after the crash, an air charter company based in Kodiak discovered debris on a beach near Afognak Island. They say the debris was recovered and found to be parts of the helicopter’s float, landing skid, and fuselage structure. No other wreckage has been located at this time, according to the agency.
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