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Two pilots killed in firefighting helicopter crash near Salmon

The U.S. Forest Service said the aircraft with two pilots on board crashed near Salmon around 3:30 p.m. Thursday while fighting the Moose Fire.

SALMON, Idaho — Both pilots on board a helicopter that crashed Thursday afternoon in Lemhi County died, the sheriff confirmed Friday.

The U.S. Forest Service said the CH-47D Series Chinook helicopter crashed at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, and came down in the Salmon River. The pilots were helping fight the Moose Fire, which has burned about 37 square miles southwest of North Fork.

The pilots have been identified as 41-year-old Thomas "Tommy" Hayes of Post Falls, Idaho, and 36-year-old Jared Bird of Anchorage, Alaska. Lemhi County Sheriff Steve Penner said both the pilots were highly experienced and both were veterans.

The pilots were employees of ROTAK Helicopter Services, which is based in Anchorage.

"Company leadership asks for prayers and privacy on behalf of the involved families at this time," the company said Thursday night in a written statement.

Online fundraisers for the families of Thomas Hayes and Jared Bird have been started on GoFundMe.

Penner said Lemhi County Dispatch was called about the downed helicopter at 4:48 p.m. Thursday. The sheriff's office, Salmon Search and Rescue, Gibbonsville QRU, Idaho Air Methods and Salmon EMT all responded to the scene.

"Upon arrival of the Lemhi County first responders, the United States Forest Service personnel were already diligently engaged in rescue efforts and lifesaving measures," Penner said in a news release, which also states that the pilots were extricated from the helicopter and taken to medical facilities, where they died from their injuries.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information is confirmed.

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