Early Thursday morning, search and rescue teams recovered the body of a civilian helicopter pilot who crashed into the Atchafalaya Basin in Iberia Parish. The commercial helicopter, a Schweizer H269, was first reported missing at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The helicopter is reportedly owned by Gulf Coast Helicopters, Inc. and had initially departed from Gonzales to conduct a pipeline survey. When it failed to arrive in Patterson, where the aircraft was scheduled to refuel at 12:30 p.m., the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard initiated a search of the basin. Reports of a helicopter crash were officially confirmed by Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal on Wednesday night. After searching large stretches of Iberia Parish via a helicopter and 29-foot response boat, the Coast Guard discovered the helicopter around 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office responded shortly thereafter and confirmed the pilot’s death. He was the only person on board the helicopter at the time.
At almost one million acres, the Atchafalaya Basin is the largest river swamp in the United States. The basin stretches 140 miles southward from Simmesport, Louisiana, to the Gulf of Mexico. The basin is home to countless species of plants and animals and contains bottomland hardwoods, swamps, bayous, and backwater lakes.
The New Orleans helicopter accident attorneys at Lambert Zainey will continue to monitor this situation as new details emerge.