Illinois vacationers witness fiery death of pilot

Illinois employers and government authorities tasked with worker safety employ and implement policies that are usually geared toward protecting workers against Illinois construction site injuries, which may involve dangerous tools or falls from heights. However, there is certain work that is automatically associated with danger. In a recent case of a work-related fatality, a pilot lost his life while he was battling a forest fire.

According to authorities, a pilot died while he was fighting a wildfire at a national park. His death could only be confirmed hours after his plane crashed, when investigators were able to reach the site of the wreckage. Authorities believe that the accident occurred as the pilot was dropping down to deploy the fire retardant in an effort to control the spread of the fire up a canyon wall. The victim’s name has not been released because his family members have not been notified yet.

The aircraft, an S-2T tanker, was manufactured in 2001 and is manned by a single pilot without any additional crew. The tanker was capable of carrying roughly 1200 gallons of fire retardant.

People who witnessed the incident stated that around 4.30 p.m. the aircraft crashed into a steep canyon wall and basically disintegrated upon impact. There were multiple witnesses to the crash; among them was an Illinois resident who was vacationing in the park with his friends.

Immediately following the crash, the highway patrol personnel stopped traffic on the route leading up to the entrance of the park. The fire had apparently started about 90 minutes prior to the accident, near the route that also leads to the very heart of the park. A nearby community had to be evacuated as well in the wake of the fire.

Source: US News, “Fire spokeswoman: Pilot dies in crash of air tanker while fighting California wildfire,” Oct. 8, 2014