Preliminary report reveals details of Interstate 10 helicopter crash

Staff Report
Joshua Hawley, 42, died in a helicopter crash on Dec. 14. He was en route to New Orleans after taking off from Gonzales.

A recent federal report revealed details of a fatal helicopter crash on Interstate 10 near LaPlace.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Preliminary Report, the aircraft struck powerlines over the Bonnet Carre Spillway portion of the highway.

The crash claimed the life of Joshua Hawley, who was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Eagle Scout, paramedic, mechanic, electrician, and father of three young boys. He grew up in Ascension Parish and graduated from St. Amant High School in 1997.

Joshua Hawley was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Eagle Scout, paramedic, mechanic, electrician, and father of three young boys.

According to the report, the Bell 407 helicopter crashed at 12:36 p.m. Central standard time on Dec. 14. The helicopter had departed from Gonzales and was destined for the Lakefront Airport in New Orleans.

The helicopter collided with the western guy wire suspended between two tall trusses. The wire was estimated to be about 130 feet above the bridge.

Several commercial vehicle dashboard cameras captured the aircraft's descent and impact, which resulted in a fire that consumed most of the fuselage.

"Low level fog allowed the stanchions of the power lines to be barely visible from the east," the NTSB report concluded. However, from the west, the fog layer was above the power lines with high cloud layers that reached about 1,200 feet. From a top-down view, there was very dense fog from all areas with a tall column of clouds to the west of the power line intersection where the accident occurred."

David Hawley, Joshua Hawley's brother, told sister publication the Sun Journal his brother was a passionate pilot who took safety seriously. 

"Aviation was a real passion and he looked for ways to do it safely, which is part of the reason this thing is so shocking," David Hawley told the North Carolina media outlet. "Josh was really regarded as a safety conscious aviator."