The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office identified four people that died in a helicopter crash north of Colusa on Sunday.
According to a release issued by the CCSO, personnel from the department and Sacramento River Fire Department responded to reports of a helicopter crash in a tomato field in the area near State Route 45 and Reservation Road, just outside of Colusa at approximately 1:15 p.m. on Sunday.
“Upon arrival, the first responder personnel located four passengers on board the helicopter,” the release said. “The passengers were confirmed dead at the scene.”
The victims of the crash have been identified as William “Bill” Bernard Vann, 67, Suzanne Marie Vann, 60, and Bobbie Lee Keaton, 62, all residents of Williams. The fourth passenger was identified as Charles Thomas Wilson, 71, of Rocklin.
The official cause of death is undetermined at this time and autopsies are pending, according to the release.
Bill Vann, a farmer and businessman from a Colusa County farm family, was described by his brother and business partner, Garnett Vann, as a hands-on partner who loved both farming and business.
“For him, being actively involved in every step of the operation made him the happiest,” said Garnett Vann. “His loss is a shock to our family, our employees and our fellow growers. … This accident and the loss of life is such a shock. However, we will continue moving forward as Bill would be the first to tell us to get going and prep for the coming almond harvest.”
The Keaton family said they are devastated by the loss of their mother and grandmother.
“Grandma Bob loved her family very much, especially her grandchildren which she was looking forward to spending retirement helping watch grow up,” said Chase Keaton, Bobbie Keaton’s son.
The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) about the incident and they will be conducting the primary investigation of the crash.
Colusa County Assistant Sheriff Mike Bradwell said FFA investigators were already on scene by early Monday afternoon.
“Once on scene, the investigator will begin the process of documenting the scene and examining the aircraft,” said Jennifer Gabris, media relations for the National Transportation Safety Board. “Part of the investigation will be to request radar data, weather information, air traffic control communication, airplane maintenance records and the pilot’s medical records. NTSB investigators will look at the human, machine and environment as the outline of the investigation.”
According to Gabris, the preliminary report – which includes all factual information learned to date – is expected to be published 15 days after the accident.
“At this early stage of an investigation, NTSB does not state a cause but will provide factual information when available,” said Gabris. “Investigations involving fatalities and other major investigations currently take between 12 and 24 months to complete.”
The CCSO will also continue to investigate the incident, according to the release, and are in the process of interviewing persons that may have seen the helicopter.
“The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office would like to express our condolences to the families of the victims involved in this tragic event,” the release said.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Sergeant
Arnold Navarro at 458-0200.