September 24 2021 03:30 pm

NTSB report: Witness saw helicopter make sharp turn before plummeting into Colusa County field, killing 4

Local News

COLUSA COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report Friday on a helicopter crash in rural Colusa County that left four people dead.

In its report, the NTSB said a driver recalled his story from the day that he watched a Robinson R66 helicopter crash into a field a few miles north of Colusa.

Just after noon on Aug. 1, the helicopter left from Willows and headed toward the foothills, the NTSB wrote in its report.

The NTSB released this map of the helicopter’s flight path that day.

The NTSB’s initial report shows Aug. 1 was a clear day and visibility was good.

By 12:51 p.m., the witness from the report said he was driving down the nearby highway when he saw the helicopter flying east. At the time, he said the helicopter, which he initially thought was a crop duster, was flying roughly 50 to 100 feet above the ground.

The NTSB said the driver saw the helicopter flying “straight and level” at first but that it “suddenly made a sharp left turn.”

It disappeared behind some trees and out of the driver’s view before it crashed into Walt Seaver’s tomato field, killing everyone on board.

”It will be a spot on our ranch that will be forever marked — I’m sure in our minds and hearts,” Seaver told FOX40 after the crash.

All four people who died that day have since been identified.

Two of the victims were 67-year-old Bill Vann and 60-year-old Susie Vann. The Almond Board of California identified Bill Vann’s company, Vann Family Orchards, as “one of the largest almond processors in northern California.”  

The Vanns left behind four children and seven grandchildren.

The other two victims have been identified by local law enforcement as Charles Thomas Wilson, 71, and 62-year-old Bobbie Lee Keaton.

FOX40 spoke with Wilson’s wife who said her husband spent his career working in the field of highway improvement. 

The agency did not say when it will release its final findings on the crash.

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