Focus Turns To Pilot In Deadly Tahlequah Helicopter Crash - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Focus Turns To Pilot In Deadly Tahlequah Helicopter Crash

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The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says two people in the helicopter were found dead at the scene. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says two people in the helicopter were found dead at the scene.
OHP troopers found the wreckage near a private road. OHP troopers found the wreckage near a private road.
The crash scene is about two miles south and west of the Tahlequah airport. The crash scene is about two miles south and west of the Tahlequah airport.

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, OK -- A deadly helicopter crash in Cherokee County claimed the lives of two people. Investigators say the crash may have happened Wednesday, but the wreck wasn't found until early Friday morning.

The crash happened south of Mud Valley Road in rural Cherokee County. Investigators say it's unclear exactly what happened, but the helicopter's pilot has a past record of traffic violations.

The wreckage was found 8:30 Friday morning two miles south of the Tahlequah airport.

"Well, this is an open field with very little tree coverage," said Jason Chennault, Cherokee County Undersheriff.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office says the pilot, 26-year-old Mark Mahaney, and his passenger, 20-year-old Darci Scraper, did not survive. Search crews began looking for the pair late Thursday night after a missing persons report was filed for Scraper.

The undersheriff says the helicopter took off early Wednesday morning from a private residence only a mile and a half from the crash site. The two victims were scheduled to meet a friend at the Tahlequah airport just a short distance away.

"They were a little bit south of where they'd taken off from which we don't know how that happened because they were coming north," Chennault said.

Court records indicate Mark Mahaney has had at least nine traffic violations since 2002, with several involving alcohol. The latest violation was DUI in February of 2009. The FAA says if a pilot is cited with a DUI, they are required to report it.

A spokesman says they can't say whether Mahaney reported the DUI or if it would keep him from flying.

Mahaney's helicopter pilot's license was registered July 31st.

Investigators say there are no obvious signs of what caused the crash. The FAA says it could take several months before a cause is officially determined.

Mark Mahaney was involved in a traffic accident in Tahlequah that killed another man in December 2000. No criminals charges were filed.

According to the FAA's tail number database, the helicopter was a Robinson R-22 Beta, a small two-seat helicopter.

It was owned by a man in Delaware, according to the FAA database.

The FAA and NTSB have now taken over the accident's investigation.

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