Helicopter crashes while filming Buffalo Bill Downhill Bloodspill skateboard race

heli crash.jpg
Photo by Chris Harris, courtesy Never Summer
A helicopter crashed just before finals at the 2011 Buffalo Bill Downhill race on Lookout Mountain on Sunday
Promoters for the 2011 Buffalo Bill Downhill Bloodspill skateboard race on Lookout Mountain may want to rethink that event name after a helicopter filming the race crashed on Sunday near -- ahem -- Dead Man's Curve. Eyewitness Chris Harris has photos online at NeverSummer.com and reports that, miraculously, there were no injuries.

Buffalo Bill Downhill Chris Harris.jpg
Photo by Chris Harris, courtesy Never Summer
"The Buffalo Bill Dowhnill guys were putting on a great, well-organized event, and the riders were staying in control, running some really tight races. There wasn't a lot of crashes or anything, everyone was having a great time, and the crowd was all psyched up," says Harris. "Then the helicopter showed up just before finals and like a second later the whole fuckin' event was over."

Harris says it all went down, so to speak, right around 2:20 p.m. "I remember the time exactly, because the announcer kept saying 'a helicopter's supposed to come film this joint at 2:00,' so I kept checking the time," he says. "Finally I saw the helicopter coming in from way off in the distance and I started getting my camera gear ready for the race."

bbdh.jpg
Photo by Chris Harris, courtesy Never Summer
Harris used to work at Echo Mountain and has some experience bringing Medevac helicopters in for a landing, and says something looked off from the second the helicopter arrived on the scene.

"I'm looking at this dude as he's coming in real low, thinking, 'what the fuck is he doing?' I don't know if we was showing off for the crowd or if he just never really had control or what. But he shows up, the crowd starts cheering because they've been waiting on him for the race to start, and he does a 180 and kind of starts drifting back, then goes off towards the finish line, drops a little, catches his tail rotor on a tree, and crashes less than 100 feet from where I'm standing."

After that, Harris says his recollection is a bit blurred.

bbdh crash.jpg
Photo by Chris Harris, courtesy Never Summer
"I remember him clipping the tree and his tail rotor being thrown into the tree -- the top rotor chopped a bunch of shit off the tree and shit's flying everywhere, people in the crowd are running and screaming, and then he comes in and sort of just falls at like a 45 degree angle. I'm basically straight ahead looking at the front window of the helicopter as it's hitting the ground, the rotor's digging into the dirt, and shit's flying all over the place. I totally had the best seats for the crash! I got some pictures and then got the fuck out of there, because people were screaming about it leaking fuel all over the place and I didn't know if it was gonna blow. From the time I first saw the helicopter until it was laying on the ground couldn't have been more than a minute. It came and it crashed. It happened that fast."

Race promoters never did get around to running the finals, but declared racers Kevin Reimer and Zak Maytum tied for first, and Kyle Martin and Alex Tongue tied for second based on earlier results.

Check out Channel 7's coverage for video of the crash shot by former pro snowboarder Chris Pappas.

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2 comments
Doug
Doug

Man, I have no idea what the cause was (settling with power?) but I am amazed at the idiocy exhibited by the spectators, skateboarders, and most of those interviewed.

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