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Friends And Family Of Helicopter Crash Victim Hold Fundraiser

By: Bailey Myers, Emily Johnson Email
By: Bailey Myers, Emily Johnson Email
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By: Bailey Myers
March 3rd, 2014

Tallahassee FL- It's been a little over three weeks since a helicopter carrying Tallahassee residents crashed and killed two people. Monday night, family and friends of one of the victims came out to raise funds for a good cause in his honor.

Friends and family of Curtis Clifford came out to Madison Social in to honor their loved one. Madison Social donated a portion of the proceeds earned during happy hour to two different funds. Both the Taltech Alliance and the ALS Indianapolis chapter will receive funds from Monday's event.

Family members told us they wanted to do this because it was something Clifford would have wanted.

"He just touched people, he was very communicative, that was just the way he was. He just felt that everyone he touched he just wanted to make smile and he did so very successfully," Roger Clifford, the victims brother told us.

Pilot Terry Ooten also died that night in the crash. Passenger Sheri Devore was the only survior. Since the accident investigators have been working to piece together what circumstances led to the crash.



Updated By: Bailey Myers
March 3, 2014, 5pm

Nearly a month ago, a deadly helicopter crash took the lives of two local businessmen.

Tonight, a Tallahassee business is honoring one of the victims.

Curtis Clifford died on February 8, 2014 after he and two friends took a helicopter trip down to Wakulla County.

Pilot Terry Ooten also died that night in the crash.

Passenger Sheri Devore was the only survivor.

Since the accident, investigators have been working to piece together what circumstances led to the crash.

Tonight, friends and coworkers of Clifford's are gathering at Madison Social.

The organization will hold a happy hour from 5-7 tonight.

A portion of those proceeds will be given to the family to donate to a charity of their choice.

Anyone is invited to attend, and the even is open to the public.


By: Bailey Myers
February 22nd, 2014

Tallahassee, FL- February 22nd marks two weeks since one helicopter crashed in Panacea Florida. The lone survivor spoke to Eyewitness News about the last few moments with her friends before the crash.

Sheri DeVore was the only person to survive the helicopter crash in Panacea. In an exclusive interview, she explained the moments before the crash were totally normal. "He said, 'Okay guys lets go', and we lifted off. The next thing I saw were trees in my window," DeVore explained.

When she saw the tree branches so close she says all she remembers was yelling the name of the pilot and her close friend, 49-year-old Terry Bryan Ooten.

"I woke up when I hit the ground. I landed on my left side when I fell in the marsh... I looked over and saw there was a piece of metal, so I grabbed onto it and helped myself get up. I got up onto the helicopter."

The National Transportation and Safety Board reports her shouts for help alerted neighbors that something was wrong. When emergency responders arrived they found live power lines down, an upside down crashed helicopter, and Sheri Devore alive.

As she explained, "I walked out leaning on their shoulders and I just said help them...I'm fine."

Devore was preparing to leave for a nearby hospital when she first began to realize the damage this accident caused. She told us she, "couldn't see around because with a neck brace you can't see a whole lot of things, but in my periphery I could see people coming back from the crash. It dawned on me- why would they be coming back so soon?"

49-year-old Terry Bryan Ooten and 53-year-old Curtis Robert Clifford were pronounced dead on scene. DeVore walked away with some broken bones.

"I'll be back to normal physically, but mentally it will never be the same," she told us.

The N.T.S.B. told us the full investigation will take twelve months to complete.



By: Bailey Myers
February 19th, 2014

Tallahassee FL- Trees may have been the cause of a fatal helicopter crash in Wakulla County. The latest National Transportation Safety Board report shows moments after the helicopter took from the Wakulla airport-- it hit surrounding trees and crashed upside down in a nearby marsh area.

The February 8th accident killed 49-year old Terry Ooten and 53-year-old Curtis Cliford. 45-year-old Sheri Devore survived. she reportedly called out the pilot's name moments before impact. The NTSB is still investigating.

"The next steps in the process are going to be looking into the man, the machine and the environment. That includes looking into the Pilot, and any certificates or ratings that he held," Shephen Stein the investigator from the NTSB told us.

According to the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office Ooten was the piloting the chopper. As Stein stated the NTSB will also look into any problems the chopper may have had or what role the environment played the night of the crash. Their full report won't be released for another 12 months.



OFFICIAL REPORT: National Transportation Safety Board

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA115
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 08, 2014 in Panacea, FL
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N571AC
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 8, 2014, about 1945 eastern standard time, a Robinson R-44 II, N571AC, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain after takeoff from Wakulla County Airport (2J0), Panacea, Florida. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured, and another passenger sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was registered to Capital Helicopters, LLC, and was operated by a private individual. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which was destined for Tallahassee Regional Airport (TLH), Tallahassee, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The helicopter had landed at 2J0 earlier in the day with the pilot and two passengers onboard. After eating at a local restaurant the pilot and passengers were transported back to the airport, where they arrived at approximately 1930 for their return flight to TLH. According to the surviving passenger, the pilot stated they would have to "back up" the helicopter prior to takeoff. The helicopter then departed the airport and, moments later, the passenger called out the pilot's name as they impacted trees.

A witness at the airp ort reported seeing the helicopter parked "facing south" prior to its departure. He did not observe the helicopter take off, but after hearing a loud "snap," he drove to the end of his driveway, where he heard the passenger calling for help.

The wreckage was located in a marsh bordered by trees, about 353 feet northwest of the departure end of runway 36. The tree tops located next to the main wreckage exhibited impact markings approximately 50 feet above ground level. The main wreckage was oriented about 24 degrees magnetic, and came to rest inverted in several feet of water. The main rotor blades both exhibited coning in the negative direction, but remained attached to the main rotor mast with the exception of the trailing edge of one of the blades, which had been impact separated. The tailboom was separated from the fuselage and was co-located with the main wreckage.


By: Emily Johnson
February 10, 2014

It's been two days since a helicopter crash killed Tallahassee locals Curtis Clifford and Terry Ooten, friends say they're devastated by what happened.

"Complete shock. It seems like in our area in our family we've had several tragedies here lately and to have another one bestowed on us is just unbelievable," David Maus, friend of Curtis Clifford.

"I was just shocked, my thoughts and prayers and that of my entire family go out to his family and friends," said Scott Johnson, acquaintance of Terry Ooten.

Friends of Clifford and Ooten call the two wonderful family men.

"If you knew Curtis you knew you had a friend for life. He was just full of life, humor and a wonderful father," said Maus.

"Family man. Loved his kids, loved to travel and he had a huge heart and he was a really giving person," said Brett Maxwell, friend of Terry Ooten.

Now it's friends giving love and support as both families grieve during a difficult time.

"It's going to be super tough, but with our support and the community's support they know they can come to us for anything. We're going to get through this," said Maus.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News

Tallahassee, Fla. -- According to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, Sheri Noelle Devore continues to be hospitalized and has been listed in "fair" condition.

Devore was the lone survivor of a recent helicopter crash that killed two.

NTSB says the investigation will take twelve months to complete and only then will they provide an explanation as to how the helicopter went down.


By: Bailey Myers
February 9th, 2014 - 11pm

Panacea, FL - Federal Officials continue to investigate a helicopter crash in Panacea Saturday night. Two people are dead while one person recovers from the wreckage.

"I seen a big flash of blue light we thought it was an accident so we came down to check it out and just seen a lady standing hollering for help standing on the bottom of a helicopter," explained Michael Carter who was there moments after the crash.

Around 8:00 Saturday evening a Tallahassee Helicopters chopper crashed in the marsh lands right outside Carter's home near the Wakulla County Airport.

"It kicked in that I needed to call the sheriff's office and do what I could do to save the lady or at least do what I could do to help save the lady," said Carter.

When emergency responders arrived they found 49 year old Terry Ooten and 53 year old Curtis Cliford both dead inside the helicopter. Sheri Devore was the only one who survived.

Sunday the remains of the helicopter were taken out of the marsh from where it was found and put in a secure location for investigators from the federal aviation administration and the national transportation and safety board.

NTSB Air Safety Investigator, Stephen Stein explained, "Right now we are in the fact gathering phase of the investigation. So our team assembled on scene we documented the terrain, the area. We photographed the wreckage."

NTSB says the investigation will take twelve months to complete and only then will they provide an explanation as to how this helicopter is now a pile of rubble.

It's a scene Carter says he won't ever forget, "Somebody needed help I'd do it all over again."

NTSB is asking for anyone with information to please email them at: witness@ntsb.gov.


By: Emily Johnson
UPDATED: February 9, 2014 - 7:55pm

Panacea, FL - "My first visual of them was they finished their meal and they came to the cash register and the cashier was going to take them to the airport, but she's so much more efficient on the cash register that I said let me take them," said Arline Petrandis, owner of Angelo and Sons.

Around 7:30 p.m. Saturday night, Petrandis says she drove Curtis Clifford, Terry Ooten and Sheri Devore back to the Wakulla County Airport. Petrandis says they talked about the restaurant and the times that the folks had eaten there.

"The last thing I said to them was 'oh what a romantic evening you've had. Tell everybody that's just wonderful that you flew your helicopter down here to eat at the restaurant.' They were just totally happy and totally pleasant. It's a shocking tragedy."

Before they could even start their journey home, authorities say their four passenger Robinson R-44 helicopter crashed into trees and power lines while leaving the airport in Panacea.

Petrandis says Angelo's restaurant is shocked that something like this happened in the small town.

"Everybody was just rocked to be that close to death. To see three people happy and 10 minutes later two of them have left this world. It rocks you."


Press Release: Tallahassee Helicopters
UPDATED: February 9, 2014 - 7:45pm

We, at Tallahassee Helicopters, are shocked and deeply hurt to hear of the tragic accident last night. On Saturday afternoon, Terry Ooten, who has been a long time customer and close friend to all of us at Tallahassee Helicopters, rented the helicopter to fly with two of his close friends to have dinner at a restaurant in Panacea.

The accident occurred as they were taking off to return to Tallahassee from Wakulla Airport, taking the life of Terry and his friend Curtis Clifford. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those two families and friends. We also join with all others in concern for the recovery of Sheri Devore.

Tallahassee Helicopters is collaborating with the FAA and the NTSB in their investigations."


By: Bailey Myers
UPDATED: February 9, 2014 - 8am

Panacea, FL – Two Tallahassee men are dead, and woman was injured after their helicopter crashed into a Wakulla County marshland.

“We had a crash out here of a helicopter,” said Wakulla County Sheriff Charlie Creel. “We were notified on the way that we had two deceased, and one survivor.”

53-year-old Curtis Robert Clifford and 49-year-old Terry Bryan Ooten were found dead in the Tallahassee Helicopters WTXL labeled chopper. The lone survivor is 45-year-old Sheri Noelle Devore.

Officials believe the helicopter had just taken off when it hit trees close to the Wakulla County Airport’s runway. The helicopter then cut nearby power lines, and came to rest in a marshy area.

“We were able to treat on victim and have them transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. We removed the other two victims later on,” said Wakulla County Fire Rescue Chief Mike Morgan.

The blades of the chopper were visible from the roadway, and teams of emergency responders spent hours combing through the wreckage.

“We don’t know if it was pilot error, mechanical error, we have no idea. That’s left to the NTSB,” Creel said.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were both notified. They will be investigating what circumstances led up to and resulted in the crash.

WTXL says the helicopter was not being used for their news gathering purposes at the time of the crash.


UPDATED: February 8, 2014 - 11:47pm

The Wakulla County Sheriff's Office has released the names of the victims in the helicopter crash.

Curtis Robert Clifford, 53 and Terry Bryan Ooten, 49, both of Tallahassee were found dead at the scene of the crash.

Sheri Noelle Devore, 45, of Tallahassee was the lone survivor. She has been rushed to an area hospital. We are still waiting on her condition.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation and Safety Board have been notified and will be investigating tomorrow.


UPDATED: February 8, 2014 - 9:09pm

Two people are dead after a helicopter crash in Panacea Saturday night. The pilot and a passenger died at the scene. An additional passenger survived and was taken to an area hospital by Life Flight.

The Wakulla County Sheriff's Office says the crash happened after the helicopter took off and hit either power lines or tree limbs.

The helicopter crashed in a marshy area right by the landing strip.

This is not a military helicopter. WCSO has not released the names of the victims yet.


By: James Buechele
February 8, 2014 - 8:45pm

Panacea, FL - A helicopter has crashed near the Panacea landing strip in Wakulla County.

Wakulla County Sheriff Charlie Creel has confirmed a helicopter crashed sometime after 8:00 p.m. on Saturday. A large portion of Panacea is without power right now.

Few details are known at this time. We have a reporter headed to the scene. As soon as more information comes in we will post it on WCTV.tv


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