North Carolina

Victim identified in fatal helicopter crash. Pilot struck power line, NC deputies say

The crop-dusting pilot who died Thursday when his aircraft got tangled in power lines over a North Carolina field has been identified as Andrew Alan Stephen by the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

Stephen, 54, of Florida, was the lone occupant of the helicopter when it went down west of the 6900 block of N.C. 205, north of New Salem, according to a sheriff’s office Facebook post. The area is about 30 miles east of Charlotte.

“The helicopter (was) spraying herbicide in the field when the aircraft became entangled in a power line before crashing,” Union County officials said.

The helicopter was “very heavily damaged,” reported the Observer’s news partner WBTV.

Investigators told WCNC the pilot was “working under contract with Vertical Flight Technologies” at the time of the incident. A witness in the field at the time of the crash was identified by the station as the pilot’s partner.

The crash occurred around 5 p.m. Thursday and state and county first responders rushed to the site, along with the Union County Fire Marshal’s Office.

“Deputies remain on scene pending arrival of FAA investigators today,” the department said Friday morning.

Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.