Pedestrian, three others killed in helicopter crash in British Columbia

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Map highlighting location of Cranbrook.
Image: Qyd.

A 23-year-old Kenyan man was crushed and killed and three others died after a helicopter crashed in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada on May 13. All on board the helicopter, two passengers and the pilot of the helicopter, were also killed.

Considered a freak accident, the attention was not centered around the crash or those killed in it, but whether or not the volume on the iPod the 23-year-old pedestrian was allegedly listening to was too loud.

Isaiah Otieno, a student at the College of the Rockies arrived in Canada two years ago and was the son of Dalmas Otieno, Kenya's Minister of State for Public Service. He was walking down the street to retrieve his mail when the Bell 206 helicopter crashed on top of him, crushed him, then dragged his body along the pavement, with the helicopter bursting into flames. The helicopter pilot was unable to maintain altitude when it crashed, killing Otieno and those inside the helicopter, instantly. The cause of the crash is not known and is still being investigated, but media outlets such as The Globe and Mail criticized the boy for wearing headphones and having the volume turned up too high, which allegedly caused him not to hear the aircraft falling from the sky.

"He was a brilliant student, very considerate, very aggressive at times. He had strong leadership qualities. Everybody here is just shattered," stated Dalmas.

File:Chc bell 206.jpg
A Canadian Bell 206 helicopter, similar to the one that crashed.
Image: Jcmurphy.

Despite the reports that Otieno was listening to his iPod, there has been no independent confirmation of those reports. Wikinews e-mailed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to confirm or deny the iPod reports, but has not yet received a response.

Other deaths have been blamed on media players like the iPod. In 2007, a boy was killed after a train struck him in Grimsby, Ontario. The boy, who had headphones on at the time, was unable to hear the sounds of the train's horn as it approached, which subsequently struck and killed him.

The helicopter was owned by Bighorn Helicopters and was rented to BC Hydro, the Province's power and water authority. The Pilot has been identified as Edward William Kyle Heeb, 57. The other two individuals killed were employees for BC Hydro and have been identified as Dirk Bentley Rozenboom, 45 and Robert William Lehmann, 37. They were checking power lines along 14th street in Cranbrook, when according to witnesses, the engine stopped and the helicopter crashed in the intersection of 14th and 10th.

Despite the reports, a Canadian music consultant states that the accident involving the helicopter cannot be blamed on the use of Otieno's iPod.

"The average downtown street registers at around 60 decibels. A jet plane flying overhead is generally quoted at 120 to 130 decibels. If you are playing your music loud enough to cut out that level of noise, then you have it cranked to a degree that is damaging your hearing," said Geordon Hoag.