The two who died were aboard the chopper. KOMO-TV identified one as longtime station photographer Bill Strothman, 62, of Bothell, who now works as a contractor for KOMO. The second victim was the pilot, Gary Pfitzner, 59, of Issaquah, also a contractor.
Eyewitness Chris McColgan was at a stoplight nearby when he saw the helicopter take off from the KOMO-TV helipad, and then suddenly drop to the ground, landing on one car, and causing two other vehicles to catch fire.
“It just blew up instantly,” he told the Seattle Times, adding, “The crazy thing is, the movies get it exactly right. It’s that big... it felt like a movie. It still feels like a movie.”
Gary Pfitzner was the pilot killed in news helicopter crash. (Photo from Jill Watson) pic.twitter.com/EpL09QaO4L— KING 5 News (@KING5Seattle) March 18, 2014
The 37-year-old driver of the car that was hit was rushed to the hospital with burns over 50 percent of his body. The other drivers took off on foot, although one has since been in touch with authorities.
The accident took place on Broad Street just outside Fisher Plaza.