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Federal officials: Texting contributed to fatal helicopter crash

Texting is well known as a distraction for car and truck drivers, with increasing numbers of drivers admitting to texting behind the wheel, and increasing numbers of fatal texting-while-driving accidents as well. As smartphones become more and more indispensible, their use is becoming a factor in more and more accidents across many types of transportation.

Recently, federal accident investigators found that the pilot of a medical helicopter involved in a fatal crash had been texting from the air as well as fatigued and distracted. The pilot was transporting a patient from one hospital to another at the end of a 12-hour shift when the accident happened. The helicopter ran out of fuel and crashed, killing four people, including the pilot.

Investigators found that the pilot had skipped safety checks, had gotten five hours of sleep the night before, and was distracted. He sent 25 text messages and received 60 during his 12 hour shift. While in the air, he sent three messages and received five.

None of those messages came or went in the 11 minutes before the crash, but experts on human performance and distraction say it’s possible that the texting still took the pilot’s mind off his job. Texting could also have caused the man to skip safety steps, they said.

As a result of this accident and growing worries about texting as a distraction from many types of transportation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a safety alert that reminds all pilots not to use cell phones or other distracting electronic devices during important operations.

Source:, “NTSB: Pilot’s texting contributed to copter crash,” Joan Lowy, April 9, 2013

  • Our law firm represents people who have been injured in New York City motor vehicle accidents. For more information, visit our texting-related accidents page.
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