by: COURTESY OF COLUMBIA HELICOPTERS - A Boeing 234 helicopter, similar to this one, crashed in Peru during oil exploration operations and killed five Columbia Helicopter employees.Five employees of Aurora’s Columbia Helicopters died Tuesday when their helicopter crashed in Peru.

Company officials said the crash near Pucallpa, Peru, killed command pilot Dann Immel of Gig Harbor, Wash.; copilot Igor Castillo of Peru; maintenance crew chief Edwin Cordova of Melbourne, Fla.; mechanic Luis Ramos of Peru; mechanic Jaime Pickett of Clarksville, Tenn.; senior load manager Darrel Birkes of Peru; and load manager Leon Bradford of Santaquin, Utah.

The men were working to support local petroleum exploration operations.

“This is a very sad day for Columbia Helicopters,” said Columbia Helicopters President Michael Fahey. “We may operate globally, but we are still very much a family. The loss of our employees hurts deeply, and I knew most of these men personally. Our employees are grieving, and we are praying for the family members of the friends we lost.”

Fahey said the crash of the Boeing 234 helicopter was under investigation. The company is sending a management investigation team to Peru to help the investigation, he said.

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