Helicopter crashes at Backwoods at Mulberry Mountain music festival

Photo: Collin Taylor, Courtesy Backwoods

UPDATE: Three people were killed and a fourth injured in the crash. The pilot, Chuck Dixon of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and passengers Marco Ornelas of Mexico and Sarah Hill of Austin, Texas died in the crash. Zachary Peterson of Omaha, Nebraska survived with a broken leg, broken pelvis, broken ribs, shattered hip, collapsed lungs, ruptured spleen, pierced chest cavity, and suffered from pneumonia after the incident. A preliminary report didn’t address the cause of the accident, but a final report could be available in 12 to 24 months, according to Keith Holloway, media relations specialist with the National Transportation Safety Board.

A helicopter crashed Sunday while giving sky tours during the Backwoods at Mulberry Mountain music festival, according to reports.

A spokesperson for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department told reporters that four people were on board, but did not initially comment on their conditions. An updated post later stated that three people died in the crash, and a fourth was injured. The downed helicopter was found through a cell phone ping from a passenger’s 911 call.

Festival staff last month published a blog post with a Tulsa-based helicopter company owner that partners with the event, but it’s uncertain if the helicopter that crashed was part of the same crew.

This year’s lineup included nearly 100 acts on four stages, but was cut short Sunday evening after the helicopter went missing.

“We’re at a standstill for the moment while some rescue efforts are underway,” a festival representative told the crowd in a video posted to Facebook Sunday. “We ask that you get together with your friends now and tell each other how much you love them. If we have the ability, we want to make this a celebration of life and try to continue the show tonight if it’s possible.”

At least two bands, including Zeds Dead and G Jones, canceled their scheduled performances while crews continued to search the area for the helicopter.