Today marks the 12-year anniversary of the firefighting helicopter crash in Trinity County that killed nine onboard.
Killed in the fiery “Iron 44” crash Aug. 5, 2008, were seven firefighters from Grayback Forestry of Oregon: Steven Renno, Shawn Blazer, Scott Charlson, Matthew Hammer, Edrik Gomez, Bryan Rich and David Steele. Also killed in the crash were U.S. Forest Service helicopter inspector pilot Jim Ramage and, from Carson Helicopters, pilot Roark Schwanenberg. Grayback firefighters Jonathan Frohreich, Michael Brown and Richard Schroeder escaped the burning wreckage with injuries, as did the badly injured co-pilot, William Coultas.
The helicopter was transporting firefighters away from the Iron Complex of lightning-sparked fires northwest of Junction City. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that the helicopter was overloaded, resulting in convictions of former Carson Helicopters employees Steve Metheny and Levi Phillips.
Earlier that fire season a young firefighter died fighting the Eagle fire. Andrew Jackson Palmer, 18, died July 25, 2008, after he was struck by a falling tree while fighting the fire which was part of the lightning-caused Iron Complex. He was a firefighter with Olympic National Park, Wash.