☑️ Chopper 6 impacted trees in Wharton State Forest at a 'very high speed,' according to the NTSB

☑️ Most of the helicopter has been recovered

☑️ The NTSB said an initial report will be available within the next 15-30 days


WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP (Gloucester) — Investigators revealed new details about the moments before the 6ABC Action News helicopter went down and crashed inside Wharton State Forest Tuesday night.

The helicopter went down Tuesday night just after 8 p.m. killing pilot Monroe Smith, 67, and photographer Christopher Dougherty, 45. They were returning to Northeast Philadelphia Airport from an assignment to take video of holiday light displays in the Smithville, New Jersey area, according to officials.

National Transportation Safety Board Inspector Todd Gunther said at a Friday briefing that the helicopter was at a shallow angle as it hit trees and came down at a "very high speed." The engine was running and the rotors were turning at the time of impact.

Gunther said investigators have not determined the speed of the helicopter at the time of the crash.

According to FlightAware.com, the helicopter was traveling at approximately 120 mph moments before the crash.

"The initial impact point is near a firebreak in the woods and then continues for about 200 yards on a heading of about 320 degrees until the last piece of wreckage is there," Gunther said, adding there is no indication of an emergency call or mayday.

6 ABC Action News' Chopper 6 helicopter
6 ABC Action News' Chopper 6 helicopter (6 ABC Action News)
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Charting the wreckage

Gunther said after two full days in a remote area, most of the helicopter, including the nose, tail, both sides of the aircraft, have been recovered as part of a process called "charting the wreckage." The size of the debris field, initially estimated to be 100 yards, has doubled in size. The debris will be taken to an undisclosed location and reconstructed.

"Everyone automatically assumes that what we look for is what's wrong. In actuality, we look for what's right. And by process of elimination during the investigation, that's how we make a determination of what occurred," Gunther said.

Gunther said a preliminary report about the crash will be available within 10 to 15 days. The final report could take as long as 18 months to complete.

Christopher Dougherty, Monroe Smith
Christopher Dougherty, Monroe Smith (6ABC Action News)
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GoFundMe created for one of the victims

A former classmate of Dougherty's from Springfield High School in Pennsylvania has created a GoFundMe page to benefit his family.

"Chris was a great guy, anyone would tell you that. His greatness is obvious in the family that he created and friends that he kept," Brenda Wilson wrote.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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