Two officers die in helicopter crash during high-speed chase in Louisiana, cops say
A Louisiana man is facing charges after two police officers died in a helicopter crash during a high-speed chase, Baton Rouge cops said.
Around 2:30 a.m. on March 26, Baton Rouge police officers started to chase a 2014 Ford Mustang, according to a news release from the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and Baton Rouge Police Department.
Deandre Dwayne Bessye, 23, fled from police, topping speeds of 135 mph before the chase was called off, cops said.
About 45 minutes later, the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office was called to a home about an abandoned vehicle they later discovered was the Ford Mustang involved in the chase.
Deputies said Bessye had stopped at the residence and asked the property owner if he could get a ride to a nearby gas station because he was out of gas.
The property owner drove Bessye to a gas station, where he called a friend to come and pick him up and take him to his home in Baton Rouge, deputies said.
At the time the chase began, a Baton Rouge police helicopter took off from a local airport and flew for 12 minutes, according to flight data, before crashing into a field, killing both officers onboard, WBRZ reported.
A preliminary report from the Federal Aviation Administration said that the tail rotor of the helicopter struck a tree, causing the helicopter to invert and crash into a field in Port Allen, Louisiana.
The sheriff’s office was made aware of the crash hours later when a family member of one of the officers reached out to the office just after 10:45 a.m. and asked deputies to “respond to a rural area” between two roads.
Deputies said they found the crashed police department helicopter in the area, and both officers had died.
The air traffic control center for the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport is regularly unmanned between midnight and 5 a.m., likely contributing to the eight hours the crash went unnoticed by officials, WBRZ reported.
Police identified the officers as 17-year police veteran Sgt. David Poirrier, 47, and 16-year police veteran Cpl. Scotty Canezaro, 38. Both were assigned to the Air Support Unit, according to police.
Police said they were “assisting uniformed officers in a vehicle pursuit when the helicopter crashed.”
Both officers were celebrated members of their community, and remembered for “sharing their love for air patrol” with children in Baton Rouge.
Bessye was arrested on charges of aggravated obstruction of a highway or commerce, aggravated flight from an officer and two counts of manslaughter, according to law enforcement.
The investigations into Bessye and the helicopter crash are ongoing.
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