Three people were killed in a midair helicopter collision in southern California on August 6. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesperson told CNN that the helicopters were among six aircraft responding to the Broadway Fire, which began after a structure fire spread to nearby vegetation in Cabazon, a community in Riverside County around 90 miles east of Los Angeles.
The collision was between a Bell 407 helicopter and a Sikorsky S-64E helicopter, according to the NTSB's social media accounts. In firefighting responses, Sikorsky helicopters are generally used to carry and spray fire and retardants.
A California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CAL FIRE) region chief said that while the first helicopter, the Bell helicopter, was able to land safely, the Sikorsky helicopter crashed, killing all three passengers onboard.
CAL FIRE identified the victims as Division Chief Josh Bischof, Captain Tim Rodriguez, and pilot Tony Sousa. The men are the first victims of the state's 2023 fire season, according to CAL FIRE's 2023 incident report.
A second four-acre fire ignited by the crash was later extinguished.
CAL FIRE Deputy Director of Communications Nick Schuler told Brianna Keilar on “CNN News Central" that this is an, "extremely rare event."
NTSB investigators were sent to the crash site investigate the cause of the crash.