Assistant U.S. Attorney Recognized for Work on Carson Helicopters Crash Investigation

Assistant U.S. Attorney Recognized for Work on Carson Helicopters Crash Investigation

20 October 2016

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USA —  OREGON — The assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon is being recognized for his work on the deadliest wildland fire aviation disaster in U.S. history.

Today, Byron Chatfield, received an Award of Excellence in Investigation from the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).

The crash happened on Aug. 5, 2008 during the Iron Complex Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest near Weatherville, Calif. A helicopter owned and operated by Carson Helicopters, Inc. of Medford was dispatched to the location to evacuate backcountry firefighters to safety.

On a third pick-up attempt, the aircraft, overweight with fuel and passengers, crashed, killing nine and injuring four others.

Chatfield, along with five other federal investigators, embarked on a seven-year investigation of the crash that led to the conviction and sentencing of two Carson Helicopter executives.

The investigation proved that the executives had falsified documents detailing weight capacities and balance charts of their aircraft in order to win $51 million in Forest Service contracts.

The investigation team conducted 246 witness interviews in five different countries, issued 84 trial subpoenas, executed 3 computer forensic exams and amassed over 129,000 pages of evidentiary discovery.

“I applaud Byron and his colleagues’ extraordinary efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict those responsible for this unthinkable tragedy” said Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon. “The work of Byron and team demonstrates the tremendous lengths those in our law enforcement community will go to bring justice to individuals responsible for similar acts of fraud.”

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