Wednesday, December 06, 2000

Helicopter, 3 men missing




The Associated Press

        MANCHESTER, Ky. — A helicopter with three men aboard disappeared during a nighttime flight to another eastern Kentucky community, authorities said Tuesday.

        Late Tuesday, wreckage was spotted in a rugged, mountainous area of Jackson County near the Madison County line, said Ray Bowman, a state emergency management spokesman.

[photo] A Kentucky National Guard Blackhawk embarks from Manchester on a search for a helicopter that disappeared after taking off Monday with three men aboard.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
        Authorities were not able to confirm that what was spotted in the Chestnut Flats area in an aerial search was the wreckage of the missing helicopter.

        The helicopter disappeared after taking off at 6:30 p.m. EST Monday from the residence of the pilot, Dr. Fred Collatz of Manchester, Mr. Bowman said. Two passengers aboard were also from Manchester.

        The aircraft was bound for Jackson, another eastern Kentucky city where Dr. Collatz was working to open a clinic, said Kentucky State Police Trooper Craig Sutton. The communities are separated by one county.

        Also aboard were Jeremy Harrod, 21, and Kelly Stewart, 31, both of Manchester, Trooper Sutton said. They were helping Dr. Collatz establish the new clinic, he said.

        At least eight aircraft joined the daylong aerial search, including helicopters from the Kentucky Army National Guard, state police and Laurel County sheriff's department, Trooper Sutton said. The Kentucky Civil Air Patrol also participated. The search encompassed at least three or four counties, Trooper Sutton said.

        Dr. Collatz, 45, established a family practice in Manchester in 1996, according to his office manager. He has a wife and a teen-age daughter, the manager said.

        Dr. Collatz' helicopter is a Robinson model R-44 and is about two months old, Mr. Bowman said.

        Trooper Sutton said he did not know how long the doctor had been flying. He said the temperature was cold Monday night but he knew of no bad weather.

        The search began about 9 a.m. EST Tuesday and continued throughout the day.

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