What went wrong in deadly Baton Rouge police helicopter crash? Flight data gives clues.

Crashed BRPD helicopter discovered after victims' family member requested search, sheriff says
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Poirrier, 47, and Canezaro, 38, were killed when the helicopter they were piloting in pursuit of a hit-and-run suspect crashed sometime after 2:30 a.m., according to the FAA.

Deputies with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office searched a field between North Winterville Road and Bueche Road after receiving a call from a family member from one of the victims requesting a search at 10:38 a.m., according to the agency. The crashed helicopter was discovered in the field and BRPD was notified shortly after, according to the sheriff’s office. 

Sudden changes

The helicopter took off from the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport at 2:26 a.m. to support a high speed chase taking place on the ground below, according to BRPD and the Flightaware data.

The data is not continuous; it maps points in time every 15-20 seconds.

The weather in the Baton Rouge area was mostly cloudy, with 7 mph winds from the south. The cloud ceiling, or the height above the ground to the lowest layer of clouds, was 900 feet, according to National Weather Service readings from the airport.

For most of the roughly 12 minutes of the flight tracked by Flightaware, the helicopter did not show any major, sudden changes in speed or altitude. At the lowest tracked point, it was still roughly 300 feet up — well above the treeline.

But the changes became much more abrupt just after 2:35 a.m. Over the next two minutes, the speed dropped from 84 mph to 56 mph in 16 seconds; rose from 67 mph mph to 98 mph in 20 seconds; and soared from 40 mph to 102 mph in 17 seconds.  

Over that same two minutes, the aircraft swiftly gained altitude, going from about 400 feet to 1,300 feet up. That’s when the data stops.  

At the end of the flight, the helicopter also rapidly changed directions; it was headed west, south, east and north all within the last few minutes, the data says.

Multiple flights

The final flight was the helicopter’s fifth in 24 hours, according to Flightaware. The four flights before the fatal crash covered:


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