Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. $12 for 12 weeks.

Chopper crash kills two in Hickory County; one MSU student

HICKORY COUNTY, Mo. --  Authorities confirm two people- a pilot and a passenger- were killed after their helicopter went down in a rural area near Cross Timbers, Missouri.

Investigators have not released the names of the victims. They are still working to positively identify the bodies. The chopper belongs to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland.

Family members tell us 21-year-old Catalina Richard died in the crash. Her sister, Kelly Richard, says the chopper took off around 5:30p.m. on Friday. It was suppose to fly over the Lucas Oil Speedway and then return. When it never reappeared, people at the Speedway called authorities.

Richard was a student at Missouri State University and worked for Lucas Oil.  She lived in Bolivar.

"We are in shock," said Kelly Richard. "You never think someone so lively, bright and beautiful could be swept away from you so quickly. We are just confused. We are not sure what happened," she added.

The Highway Patrol confirms the location of the crash was about three and a half miles northwest of Cross Timbers, and just west of U.S. Highway 65. The Hickory County Sheriff says a powerline was down at the crash site but it's not clear at this time if it's related to the accident.

"I don't know if the powerline is involved," said Sheriff Raymond Tipton. "I do know the powerline was down. The power company advised that electricity went out," Tipton explained.

Troopers say the crash scene is in a heavily wooded area, which makes for some tough terrain to navigate for rescue crews.

Mangers at the speedway tell us they cannot comment at this time about the ongoing investigation. They hope to release a statement sometime next week. In the meantime, the two victims were honored with a moment of silence.

The NTSB and FAA have taken over the investigation. NTSB officials say they will likely have preliminary report in about a week.

Instead of flowers, the Richard family is asking for donations to cover funeral costs.
A fund is setup at Farmers State bank in Bolivar.

More details on this developing story to follow, and updates at as they become available.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun