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Wreckage of fatal helicopter crash pulled from Middlesex County forest

Eyewitnesses reported seeing the helicopter spiral out of control before it ultimately broke apart. Parts of the plane crashed in the canal.

Bob Doda

Sep 2, 2023, 2:13 PM

Updated 290 days ago

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The wreckage of a fatal helicopter crash was pulled out Saturday afternoon from a Middlesex County forest.
Investigators told News 12’s Joti Rekhi that they used machetes to cut through the forest inside Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park on the New Brunswick-Princeton border to get to the crash site.
“It’s very dense back there. There’s lots of poison ivy. Bacteria in the water. The water is deep in some places but mostly it’s really dense,” said Aaron McCarter, the air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing the helicopter spiral out of control before it ultimately broke apart. Parts of the plane crashed in the canal.
“As it was tumbling out of control, it came apart in midair,” said McCarter. “Separating the tail assembly and the rotor assembly and it all fell in a general location.”
Scene from outside the recovery zone.
The pilot was identified as 44-year-old Josef Yitzhak, of Israel. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
NTSB officials say Yitzhak was a seasoned pilot who was training to get additional qualifications. They say something was wrong with the helicopter before it hit the canal. That area of the river is just about five feet deep.
Yizhak’s body was flown back to Israel. Funeral services are expected to take place on Sunday.
McCarter says a toxicology exam was performed, but not an autopsy out of respect to his and his family's religious beliefs.
NTSB officials said Friday that a complete investigation into the crash could take months. They are asking anyone with surveillance video that may have captured the crash or with statements about the incident to email Witness@ntsb.gov.


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