NTSB determines cause of 2018 fatal helicopter crash in Williamsburg


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — The National Transportation Safety Board has determined the probable cause of the fatal helicopter crash that killed two in Williamsburg in 2018.

According to the final report released by the NTSB on May 19, the probable cause has been determined that the 85-year-old Henry Schwarz, of Alexandria, failed to safely operate the helicopter due to his impaired cognitive and physical abilities, which resulted in a loss of control.

In a factual report released last month, the NTSB said that Schwarz was diagnosed with dementia, tremors, Parkinson’s disease and showed signs of attention deficits serious enough that a doctor recommend to Schwarz that he not fly due to concerns with his attention, reaction time, and judgement.

Another probable cause of the accident determined by the NTSB was a loss of control due to the banner tow rope becoming entangled with the left horizontal stabilizer in crosswinds conditions.

The helicopter he flew crashed into a home at the Bristol Commons on Settlement Drive, off Ironbound Road, on July 8, 2018. Two people were killed in the crash including Schwarz, and 91-year-old resident Jean Danylko.

The preliminary report stated in 2018, Schwarz took off from the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport and flew for about three nautical miles before something went wrong. 

The report also stated that the helicopter’s last recorded position was near the townhome falling at a rate greater than 10,000 feet per minute. A fire that was sparked by the crash destroyed nearly all the helicopter’s instruments and equipment.

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