By WBRZ Staff
ERWINVILLE – Two pilots were killed when a police helicopter crashed into a cane field in rural West Baton Rouge Parish.
Authorities say the BRPD helicopter crashed into a cane field off North Winterville Road, just off U.S. 190.
According to flight data, the helicopter took off from Baton Rouge Metro airport at 2:26 a.m. and crashed in a field nearly three miles away from the Omni airport 12 minutes later. Sources told WBRZ the helicopter was found around 11:30 a.m. after the pilots did not come home from work.
There were no severe weather factors at the time. Federal agencies started their investigation Sunday around noon and did not release any information on how the crash happened.
“The FAA and their investigators will be leading this investigative process. We’re asking the community to be respectful of the investigative process because it does take time, so that we can release all of the facts,” BRPD Chief Murphy Paul said during a press conference Sunday afternoon.
Sources said the helicopter was pursuing a vehicle that was running from police when the crash happened.
Two pilots, who are also BRPD officers, died at the scene. It is unclear if anyone else was on board.
Chief Paul said the names of the officers will not be released Sunday. He refused to take any questions about the accident.
“I’m going to ask the same thing a family member asked me when we were on the phone. Right now Chief, we need prayers. So please, pray for the families of our officers as they go through this difficult time,” Paul said.
Mayor Broome issued the following statement Sunday afternoon:
On behalf of the City of Baton Rouge, I extend my deepest condolences to the families and colleagues of the BRPD officers who tragically lost their lives today in a helicopter crash.
These officers served our community with distinction and bravery, and we will forever be grateful for their service and sacrifice.
We are working closely with the Baton Rouge Police Department to offer support for their investigation into the cause of this tragedy and to provide support to the families and colleagues of the fallen officers.
We ask the community keep the families of the fallen officers in their thoughts and prayers, and we express our heartfelt gratitude to all of the first responder agencies who have been working tirelessly to support our city during this difficult time.
Condolences also poured in Sunday from first responders across the region – many posting the same image of a BRPD badge marked by a black stripe, noting the loss of the two officers.
The helicopter has been a resource for BRPD since 2010. It has since undergone technology updates and re-painting. FAA records show the Robinson 44 II aircraft is certified through mid-2028.
The R44 is a twin-blade helicopter that is one of the more common models used by law enforcement. It was developed in the early 1990s and put to general use in 1993.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the crash site has been deemed off limits for pilots in a one-mile radius around and above the area until Monday evening.