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Highway Patrol Pilot Killed in Chopper Crash Identified

Highway Patrol Pilot Killed in Chopper Crash Identified

Aircraft from the Missouri Highway Patrol Aircraft Division (photo courtesy MHP)

St. Louis Post Dispatch via YellowBrix

October 15, 2010

He and about a dozen neighbors ran over to crash site, which was strewn with glass and papers, he said. The wreckage was smoking and spilling gas and oil. He said he saw the pilot, who wasn’t moving. Police showed up quickly to take over the scene, he said.

“I try to pray for him,” Grajeda, originally from Guatemala, said in broken English.

Several Ameren Missouri workers who were also in the area said they heard a scraping noise and then a loud thud. When they got to the crash site, they found the rotor had detached from the flattened wreckage of the rest of the craft. The rotor ended up in somone’s yard, they said.

Nothum said Schuengel had been a pilot with the highway patrol for the last seven years. As required, the copter was serviced every 100 hours, Nothum said.

“Joe was meticulous about this helicopter,” Nothum said. “We’re not sure what happened at this point.”

Hull said the patrol’s aircraft division had five helicopters. Some of the helicopters were assigned by the U.S. Department of Defense, and the patrol uses them primarily for marijuana eradication.

The copter that crashed, however, was not used for marijuana eradication, Hull said. It was assigned to traffic enforcement Friday morning, Hull said.

According to the FAA, the Bell 206B helicopter was manufactured in 1981.

Schuengel was honored in 2004 after helping save a man who had been in a crash on Interstate 64 in St. Louis the year before. According to the highway patrol, the man wasn’t breathing and had no pulse when Schuengel pulled him out of his wrecked van. He administered CPR and the man had a pulse and was breathing when paramedics arrived.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered flags at all Missouri State Highway Patrol facilities to be immediately lowered to half-staff this afternoon.

“The men and women of the Missouri State Highway Patrol place their lives on the line every day,” Nixon said in a statement. “It is a risk they bravely and willingly accept as part of their sworn dedication to uphold the law and protect their fellow citizens. Today, that risk came at a tragic cost with the death of Sgt. Joe Schuengel in the line of duty. My thoughts and prayers, as well as those of the First Lady, are with Sgt. Schuengel’s family.”

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