Memorial Fund for Victims Killed in Helicopter Crash

FRESNO, Calif. Clu Cotter, Tom Stolberg and Kevin O'Connor all worked out of the local office of the California Department of Fish and Game. The chopper's pilot Dennis Donovan also died.

Flags at the Fish and Game offices in Northeast Fresno were lowered to half staff Wednesday morning in honor of the crash victims. They were also lowered at all Valley Calfire Stations.

Game wardens are waiting for federal investigators to complete their findings. A team from the NTSB and FAA are on the ground-determining what happened to their helicopter.

Investigators spent their first full day scouring the crash site. More than 90% of the helicopter was consumed by flames and reduced to ashes.

Assistant Chief John Baker worked with all three men. "Clue, Kevin and Tom were very dedicated to protecting the resources-protecting them in such a way for the most benefit for the most people," said Baker.

The helicopter crashed while Contract Pilot Dennis Donovan flew the aircraft. Donovan hit a high voltage power line that sits hundreds of feet above the ground.

Eliot Simpson is leading the investigation for the National Transportation Safety Board. "Pilots have sectional maps which usually display power lines but of course they are looking outside as well which is a big key to fly helicopter," said Simpson.

The loss of three colleagues in one tragic accident hits home for an agency charged with protecting California's wildlife.

Baker said, "It's a very somber mood. Fish and Game is a very close knit family, even though we are a state wide agency ... I can best describe it as we are just a real tight knit group of people."
Memorial Fund Information

CAPS welcomes donations to this account which will benefit the families of Department of Fish & Game employees Clu Cotter, Kevin O'Connor, and Tom Stolberg, and helicopter pilot Dennis Donovan.

"State scientists are a very tight-knit group," said CAPS President Patty Velez, a state Environmental Scientists at the Department of Fish & Game. "We want to make sure we do everything we can to help the families during this time of tragedy."

Checks made out to the "State Biologists' Memorial Fund" can be sent to:

State Biologists' Memorial Fund
c/o CAPS
455 Capitol Mall, Suite 500
Sacramento, CA 95814

Contributions are not tax deductible.

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