2 Killed in Arkansas Helicopter Crash

A helicopter inspecting power lines in northern Arkansas crashed Tuesday near the Norfork Dam, killing two people aboard, officials said.

The helicopter, owned by Ozark Mountain Helicopters LLC, a tour company based out of Branson, Mo., crashed just before 9:30 a.m., FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said. Baxter County sheriff's deputies said the helicopter came down on the far side of Norfork Dam in the Overlook Estates area.

Casey Evertsen, a manager at Ozark Mountain Helicopters, said Sho-Me Power Electric Cooperative of Marshfield, Mo., hired the helicopter to inspect power lines.

"It was just the pilot and one person looking at power lines," Evertsen said.

Evertsen declined to immediately identify the pilot. A woman who answered the phone at Sho-Me Power said no one there could discuss the crash.

P.J. Spaul, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the helicopter clipped transmission lines running from the dam either before or as it crashed. Spaul said the crash cut the lines and sparked two power surges in generators at the Bull Shoals and Norfork power plants.

Spaul said fire-suppression systems went off immediately after the power surges.

"We're still assessing if there was any damage to our facilities," Spaul said.

Officials described the area as rugged, saying Arkansas Game & Fish Commission officers had to respond to the crash on off-road vehicles. Black smoke from the crash could be seen from a distance.

Herwig said the National Transportation Safety Board was expected to investigate the crash.

Salesville is about 10 miles southwest of Mountain Home.