Passenger In Stable Condition
The US Customs and Border Protection service has lost one of its
pilots, less than a month after another fatal accident.
The Associated Press reports Robert F. Smith was piloting an
American Eurocopter AS350 when it crashed in a residential area
near the US/Mexico border Tuesday morning. Smith was pronounced
dead at an area hospital; Steven Takacs, a CBP observer also
onboard the helo, was in the ICU in stable condition, according to
Michael Wimberly, air operations director for the agency in El
Witnesses say everything appeared normal as the helicopter flew
toward San Elizario, TX from the nearby town of Fabens, when it ran
"They were flying along real good, then there was a snapping,
popping noise," said Wayne Weaver. "You could hear a light hum,
then like a thunk."
One of the first people to respond to the crash scene was Juan
Chavez, 95, a retired colonel from the Army Air Corps. Along with
others, he worked to free both men from the wreckage.
"This here ain't nothing new to me," said Chavez, who rushed to
the scene in his pickup truck. "I knew what to do. I'm an old
Both men were unconscious when they were pulled from the
wreckage, but one of the men came to as he was carried to the
"We told him he was OK and to hang in with us," said Chavez.
The FAA is investigating Tuesdays accident, the second fatal
crash of a CBP aircraft in the last month. As ANN reported, Clint
Thrasher died April 25 when he apparently lost control of his
Cessna 182 while on station near San Manuel, TX.