Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa and Monroe Smith of Glenside, Pa have been identified as the photographer and pilot duo who died in a 6abc helicopter crash.
Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa and Monroe Smith were in the helicopter when it went down in Washington Township, New Jersey just after 8 p.m. Tuesday.
They were returning from an assignment at the Jersey Shore.
Monroe Smith was 67-years-old whilst Chris Dougherty was 45-years-old.
The duo was identified after their identities were initially withheld pending notification of their families.
Below, we reveal what we know about them below.
Who was Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa
Christopher Dougherty was a 6abc Action News photographer who died after his news chopper went down whilst on assignment with Monroe Smith, a pilot.
The duo were in the helicopter when it went down in Washington Township, New Jersey just after 8 p.m. They were returning from an assignment at the Jersey Shore.
Christopher Dougherty and Smith were on assignment for Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate WPVI-TV when the helicopter went down in a wooded area in New Jersey just after 8 pm Tuesday.
The two were returning from the assignment at the Jersey Shore when the helicopter started to drop in altitude and then crashed.
The cause of the crash is being investigated by The National Transportation Safety Board.
According to reports, the chopper with Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa and Monroe Smith Glenside took off from the Northeast Philadelphia Airport before 7:30 p.m. and the crew flew to an assignment near Galloway Township, New Jersey.
Flight tracker data shows the helicopter’s altitude dropping while returning to Philadelphia.
Chopper 6 was last airborne over Wharton State Forest before it crashed in a remote section of the woods.
A helicopter from a fellow Philadelphia television station captured video of the wreckage.
As authorities searched the area with flashlights in the darkness, scattered debris, with some pieces on fire or smoking, could be seen.
New Jersey State Park Police say a debris field was located shortly after midnight a few hundred yards from Mullica River Road, in the area of Middle Road and Quaker Bridge Atsion Road in Washington Twp.
The area is part of the New Jersey Pinelands, a million-acre wilderness area that stretches across more than seven counties and features dense woods, rivers and rare plant species.
The Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the crash site at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday and took control of the scene.
“They are described as the best guys that you would want to know, on the job for decades,” she said. “They are highly skilled in what they do. They loved their craft,” 6abc reporter Maggie Nekt said of Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa and Monroe Smith.
“Our hearts are just broken for these men. They’re broken for their families,” reporter Katherine Scott said during a report on Action News.
“We just can’t believe this has happened.”
ABC News described the lost staff as two people who “have a long history with our station and have been working as part of the Action News team for years.”
Chopper 6, which went down, with Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa and Smith onboard, was a 2013 American Eurocopter AS-350 Astar, which 6abc leases from U.S. Helicopters Inc. based in North Carolina.
U.S. Helicopters said in a statement the pilot and photographer were ‘beloved’ long-time employees of the company.
“We deeply sympathize with their families and share in their grief as a result of this tragic event. We will share arrangements in accordance with the families’ wishes,” the statement reads.
“We will cooperate with the FAA and other authorities during their investigation and are still gathering information, so we cannot comment or provide further information on the cause of this tragedy,” the statement continued.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our cherished colleagues.”
Monroe Smith Glenside Pa
Monroe Smith Glenside Pa was a pilot for 6abc Action News 6 who died after their chopper went down in New Jersey.
Smith, the pilot, was onboard with Chris Dougherty of Oreland Pa when the crash occured, leading to both their deaths.
N.J. State Park police officer located and confirmed a debris field a few hundred yards off Mullica River Road in Washington Township, Burlington County after the crash Tuesday night.
“Due to the remote location of the scene and the limited visibility, it was determined at that point that the investigation would be suspended until sometime after daybreak,” said Chief George Fedorczyk of the New Jersey State Park Police.
“Know that our thoughts are with the pilots, their families and the media community.”
Retired news photographer Pete Kane, who knew Monroe Smith Glenside Pa for a longtime, said when he had heard of the crash he called Smith the next morning, but he didn’t pick up.
“He didn’t answer the phone,” said Kane. “Then my concerns hit. I know he’d answer if Chopper 6 went down. He’d answer the phone.”
Kane continued,””e all have a job to do. He took on the job being a new chopper pilot. He just accepted that job like any other job.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into the crash.
Tributes poured in for the two deceased – Chris Dougherty Oreland Pa and Monroe Smith Glenside Pa from viewers, colleagues and members from all parts of the community by way of phone calls, emails and posts on social media.
That includes messages such as:
“My heart goes out to all of you. You are such a wonderful group and truly feel like a family. Prayers to you and the families of those lost.”
“Sad to hear any day but especially this close to the holidays. Much love to their loved ones including their ABC News family.”
“Gut-wrenching news. My heart sank on reading this. Praying for those in the chopper and their families. Thoughts and prayers for all of you at WPVI and the Action News team.”
The hangar for the Action News team was right next to the Philadelphia Police Aviation Unit and Lt. Scott Pastman, who has been flying for the police department for 17 years, said he would see Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa and Monroe Smith Glenside Pa in passing regularly.
“It hits home because every night we’re doing the same thing…so it definitely takes its toll and it’s shocking to hear and we really feel too for the families,” he said.
Reacting to the deaths, ABC News said: “Chopper 6 and those who fly in it play an integral role in our news-gathering operation, accessing areas that are difficult to reach by ground, giving us everything from weather and beauty shots, traffic backups, and important information about news of the day.
“The first helicopter to serve as Chopper 6 launched in February 1980. It was the first TV news helicopter in Philadelphia,”
NTSB investigation into deaths of Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa and Monroe Smith 6abc
A spokesperson from the National Transportation Safety Board told Action News that an investigator will begin the process of documenting the scene and examining the helicopter involved in the crash off Christopher Dougherty Oreland Pa and Monroe Smith Glenside Pa on Thursday morning.
The helicopter will then be taken to a secure facility for evaluation.
“NTSB investigations involve three primary areas: the pilot, the aircraft and the operating environment,” said spokesperson Jennifer Gabris.
The information and records the NTSB will examine include flight track data, air traffic control communications, maintenance records, weather conditions, the pilot’s license and flight experience, a 72-hour background check of the pilot, witness statements, and potential information from electronic devices and any available surveillance video – including doorbell cameras.
“During the on-scene phase of the investigative process, the NTSB does not determine or speculate about the cause of the accident,” Grabis said.
A preliminary report will be available within 30 days.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent U.S. government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigations.
In this role, the NTSB investigates and reports on aviation accidents and incidents, certain types of highway crashes, ship and marine accidents, pipeline incidents, bridge failures, and railroad accidents.
The NTSB is also in charge of investigating cases of hazardous materials releases that occur during transportation.
The agency is based in Washington, D.C. It has four regional offices, located in Anchorage, Alaska; Denver, Colorado; Ashburn, Virginia; and Seattle, Washington.
The agency also operates a national training center at its Ashburn facility.
Oreland is a United States census-designated place (CDP) in Springfield and Upper Dublin townships, just outside the Chestnut Hill and Mount Airy areas of Philadelphia. Oreland has a ZIP code of 19075, and the population was 5,678 at the 2010 census.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2), all land.
Oreland, as part of Springfield Township, was settled as one of William Penn’s manors.
In 1686, Thomas Fitzwater discovered vast lime deposits on his land in Oreland.
He erected a kiln to process it, which by 1693 had attracted the attention of William Penn. Penn ordered a highway built from the port of the Delaware River to the kiln.
Named Limekiln Pike, and still in existence today, it was one of the first roads in the area.
These lime deposits and the ore deposits also found in the area gave Oreland its name.
Mining and farming would dominate Oreland’s economy until the 20th century, when Oreland transformed into a residential suburb of Philadelphia, as it remains today.
The village of Oreland was not laid out until 1889 near the North Penn Railroad running along the east side of town (currently SEPTA’s Lansdale/Doylestown Line).
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