NTSB critical of KCSO helicopter flight with wounded dog
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) —
The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report about an incident two years ago involving a hard landing for a Kern County Sheriff's Office helicopter on Highway 58 near Tehachapi.
On the evening of March 26, 2014, the sheriff's department shot and killed an armed suspect who had led deputies on a chase through Oildale on a stolen motorcycle.
In the standoff that ensued at the end of the chase, McDaniel was shot to death and a sheriff K-9 was hit by gunfire, as well. The department never confirmed whose shot hit the dog.
McDaniel was rushed to a hospital, where he died. The K-9, named Luke, was stabilized and then loaded onto a sheriff helicopter, bound for an animal hospital in the Antelope Valley.
By the time the helicopter took off, it was after 1 a.m. and a storm was moving over the mountains.
The pilot struggled in low-visibility and became so disoriented the helicopter "bounced" off the highway near Tehachapi, spinning around in the process.
The aircraft was badly damaged, but could still fly and the pilot made it to nearby Tehachapi Airport.
The NTSB report states that visual and auditory alerts from the aircraft's radar altimeter were disabled during the flight and that the pilot lost his bearings when his night vision goggles failed because of moisture buildup on the windshield.
The agency concluded that the weather on that evening was below operating minimums to fly and that the sheriff's air support unit didn't follow "formal risk assessment procedures."
Eyewitness News requested an interview with Sheriff Donny Youngblood about the report, but he denied our request.
The dog, sheriff spokesperson Ray Pruitt says, made a full recovery and has since returned to duty.