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Alaska News

As investigation into fatal helicopter crash gathers speed, survivor says he is open to interview

This photo provided by the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group shows the scene of a helicopter crash near the Knik Glacier in Alaska on Sunday, March 28, 2021. Federal investigators say the helicopter carrying five passengers on a heli-skiing trip in Alaska crashed into a mountain and then rolled downhill nearly 900 feet. The pilot and four of the five passengers on board died in the crash. (Lance Flint/Alaska Mountain Rescue Group via AP)

The lone survivor of the March 27 helicopter crash in the Chugach Mountains that killed five people has expressed an interest in talking to federal investigators about what happened.

The National Transportation Safety Board is ramping up its investigation into the crash in steep backcountry above Knik Glacier.

The crash of the Soloy Helicopters Airbus AS350B3 about 21 miles southeast of Palmer during a heli-skiing trip killed the pilot, two respected guides with deep ties to Alaska and two Europeans including 56-year-old Petr Kellner, a billionaire entrepreneur considered one of the wealthiest men in Europe.

Rescuers found survivor David Horváth, a 48-year-old Czech snowboarder, inside the wreckage with four of the five victims. A fifth was outside the aircraft.

A screenshot of David Horvath from a video on his YouTube channel dated Feb. 10, 2021. Horvath survived a helicopter crash March 27, 2021 that killed five. (YouTube Screenshot)

The NTSB’s Alaska chief, Clint Johnson, last week said he initially got no response when he reached out to request an interview with Horváth through Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Johnson on Wednesday said that Horváth through a representative says he’s willing to be interviewed but is not currently able to do so.

“It will probably be a while,” Johnson said.

The extent of Horváth’s injuries has yet to be made clear.

Horvath spent four days in serious condition at Providence before his condition was upgraded to good. He was no longer listed as a patient at the hospital as of Saturday and remained in that status on Wednesday, Providence spokesman Mikal Canfield said. Generally, that can mean a patient has been released or that they have requested their name be removed for privacy.

A team of NTSB investigators is starting to examine the wreckage in Anchorage after it was moved there Tuesday from Mat-Su due to concerns about COVID-19 rates there, Johnson said. Additional investigators are still arriving in Alaska and will begin interviews this week.

The crash killed 33-year-old pilot Zachary Russell, of Anchorage; guides Greg Harms, 52, of Colorado, and Sean McManamy, 38, of Girdwood; Kellner and Benjamin Larochaix, 50, both of the Czech Republic, according to Alaska State Troopers. French media have identified Larochaix as being from France.

The agency isn’t likely to release the first report on the crash until next week.

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