2 killed in Cochise Co. helicopter crash on New Year's Eve

Published: Jan. 1, 2015 at 5:07 AM MST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2016 at 11:10 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Cochise County Sheriff's helicopter, Cochise Air, has crashed on a flight from Phoenix to Cochise County.

According to the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, the helicopter was returning from the Phoenix area back to Cochise County, after routine maintenance, when it crashed. Cochise Air is owned by a Phoenix helicopter company but leased to the sheriff's department. The leasing company contacted the Sheriff's office shortly before 7 p.m. saying they had lost communications with the crew near the Benson area.

Search and Rescue personnel traced the pilot's cell phone to an area south of I-10 just outside of Benson. They found the helicopter around 9:20 p.m. The two people on board, the pilot and a mechanic, were pronounced dead on the scene.

The National Transportation and Safety Board is heading up the investigation with assistance from CCSO.

The occupants are not being identified until family is notified.

A press conference is scheduled for 5 p.m. today at the Cochise County Sheriff's Office.

In a news release Sheriff Mark Dannels said "This news leaves me personally and this organization with a heavy heart because of the tragic loss of two incredible lives. We have worked closely with this company and these two individuals since receiving Cochise Air and knowing that they are considered part of the Sheriff's Office family makes this so much harder. We send our condolences out to the families of two people who will truly be missed."

No official word yet on why the helicopter went down.

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