January 6, 2010
Abram I. Bohrer


Three employees of the California Department of Fish and Game, and their pilot died Tuesday when their Bell 206 helicopter clipped an electrical wire and crashed in the Sierra National Forest in Madera County.

The biologists wee conducting an aerial deer survery when the crash occurred.

The crash happened in a narrow canyon near Redinger Lake after the helicopter struck a power line and sparked a blaze that scattered debris throughout a quarter-mile of brush, Madera County officials said.

Killed were Clu Cotter, 48, an associate biologist; biologist supervisor Kevin O’Connor, 40; and Tom Stolberg, 31, a seasonal aide, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. The three were conducting an aerial deer survey.

The crash also killed the pilot, Dennis Donovan of Palm Springs, the Madera County Sheriff’s Department reported. His age was unavailable.

The accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration