Victim ID'd in Out-of-Control Chopper Crash

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- A mechanic from Arizona was killed Wednesday when a helicopter lifting a new power line spiraled out of control in high winds and crashed near Santa Clarita.

Paramedics were sent to the area of Bouquet Canyon and Vasquez Canyon roads at 9:40 a.m. on a report that a person was killed by a helicopter that crashed during high winds, said Inspector Ron Haralson of the county fire department.

County fire Inspector Frank Garrido said the helicopter spiraled out of control and crashed, killing a mechanic on the ground.

"It was hovering above the ground. A gust of wind made the helicopter spiral," Garrido said.

He was identified early Wednesday evening by Craig Harvey of the coroner's office as Curtis Dale Cauthen, 31, from Arizona. His hometown in Arizona was not released.

The helicopter pilot suffered a minor injury, said Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration. The helicopters tail was split in two as the vessel lay upside down on a plateau.

A spokesman for Southern California Edison said the victim and pilot worked for Swanson Aviation, an out-of-state firm hired to string a major electrical transmission line.


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According to the preliminary investigation, the pilot "was in the process of lifting off" when the helicopter crashed, Gregor said. The crash was under investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, Gregor said.

The crash occurred northeast of the Santa Clarita neighborhood of Saugus.

The tail registration number indicates the helicopter is an experimental helicopter built by Kaman Aerospace in 2003, and used for firefighting and industrial lifting projects, according to FAA records.

SCE spokesman Gil Alexander said the utility expressed its condolences to the victim's family and co-workers at the firm.

Swanson Aviation was hired by an Edison contractor, Parr Electric, to string high-voltage lines into Los Angeles from Central California. The 4.5-megawatt line will bring wind-generated electricity from Tehachapi Pass to the

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