Chopper 6 crash kills 2 workers at Action News; cause under investigation

The pilot and photographer died as a result of the helicopter crash Tuesday night as they returned from an assignment at the Jersey Shore.

A police vehicle is parked on a road leading to the scene of a helicopter crash in Washington Township

A police vehicle is parked on a road leading to the scene of a helicopter crash in Washington Township, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the deadly crash of Chopper 6, the news-gathering chopper leased to WPVI-TV’s Action News.

A pilot and a photographer were on board the helicopter when it went down in the Wharton Forest in Burlington County, New Jersey around 8 p.m. They were returning from an evening assignment at the Jersey Shore.

The pilot was 67-year-old Monroe Smith of Glenside, Pa. and the photographer was 45-year-old Christopher Dougherty of Oreland, Pa.

Officials said the chopper was discovered shortly after midnight. New Jersey State Park Police Chief George Fedorczyk said they sent police and firefighters to the scene and secured the wreckage for investigators.

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Crews had to carve a path to the scene of the wreckage because the area is so wooded. Several unpaved local roads including Quaker Bridge Road, Mullica River Road, and Middle Road had to be shut down for the investigation.

A 6abc helicopter is seen in the sky.
The helicopter was last airborne over Wharton State Forest when it crashed. (6abc)

The FAA arrived on scene about four hours after the wreckage was found, but investigators had to wait until daylight to begin their work.

Chopper 6 was a 2013 American Eurocopter AS-350A-STAR, helicopter that was leased to the television station by U.S. Helicopters based in North Carolina. The company has been in touch with the family of the two who died in the crash, whose names have not be made public.

The company specializes in news gathering nationwide. Their website said they provide services to more than 30 news agencies and their pilots have logged more than 1 million flight hours.

Channel 6 was the first station in the city to have a news helicopter, when they launched the first Chopper 6 in 1980. A previous helicopter owned by the station crashed in 1997 during takeoff. There were no fatal injuries in that incident.

6abc reporting contributed to this story. 

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