Tuesday 23 September 2014
 







Helicopter crashes following NASCAR Food City 250

 

Helicopter crashes following NASCAR Food City 250

HeliCrash3.jpg

By Jerry Jordan
KickinTheTires.net

BRISTOL, Tn. -- An executive helicopter belonging to K-VAT & W-L Aviation of Abingdon, Va., the parent company of the Food City  supermarket chain, was located at about 2:45 a.m. on Saturday, August 25 approximately 150-yards from shore in South Holston Lake, Kickin’ the Tires has confirmed. The Bell 407 executive helicopter crashed around 10:30 p.m. near the home of Food City CEO Steve Smith, who lives on the lake. The grocery store chain was the corporate sponsor Friday night’s Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Corporate representatives of Food City confirmed Smith was not on-board but information from the crash site indicates the pilot, whose name is being withheld, did not survive.

Members of the Virginia State Police Search and Recovery Team, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Washington County Sheriff’s Department used boats and a dive team to try and locate the submerged aircraft. They launched their boats at the Washington County Park on Lake Road.

After searching for several hours, one of the law enforcement officers on a boat not far from Smith’s residence yelled for other officers to come to his location. He told them he believed he had found the main fuselage and that he had taken GPS coordinates. The officers then dropped a marker in the water.

One of the search and rescue teams using a pontoon boat had already recovered several pieces of debris and were bringing them to shore. A reporter with Kickin’ the Tires, who was aboard a private boat on the lake during the search efforts, was able to snap a photo of the debris, including a piece that looked to be a blue cowling with a portion of the company’s logo on it but all that was visible was the word “FOOD.” Other pieces of debris on the pontoon boat were unrecognizable.

According to a law enforcement officer at the scene, it appeared the pilot tried to save the helicopter as he was taking off but its rotor struck the ground and the helicopter began a low skip across the water.

A police helicopter using a spotlight had already ended its efforts and officers were securing the scene until daylight. The FAA is expected to arrive on-scene early Saturday morning but additional information won’t be available until noon.

Food City is a privately held grocery store chain headquartered in Abingdon, Va. with a total of 104 stores in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky, according to its Web site. It was founded in 1955.

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