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Four Killed When State Police Chopper Crashes Into Harvard Boathouse

February 23, 1995

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ Investigators should be able to piece together most of a state police helicopter that crashed onto the roof of an unoccupied Harvard University boathouse, killing all four aboard.

``From what I can see there I got the whole aircraft,″ said Alan Yurman of the National Transportation Safety Board, as flatbed trucks hauled away the wreckage of Wednesday’s crash.

``The engine is intact, we pulled the tail out of the river and the control panel is in one piece,″ Yurman said.

Investigators will examine the wreckage to determine why the French-made Aerospatiale AS350-B jet helicopter plunged out of the sky just moments after taking off on a clear morning with an experienced two-man crew.

Witnesses said the chopper’s main rotor was not spinning as the helicopter hit the boathouse.

``The main propeller was not turning. I just saw the tail″ rotor operating, said David Barber, an MIT maintenance worker who was practicing safety procedures with the university rescue unit when the crash occurred.

The copter was skinned of its blue metallic shell and left dangling at the edge of the unoccupied Harvard Yacht Club, which sits across the Charles River from the site of the famous Fourth of July Boston Pops concert. The club is used primarily for sailing; a larger boathouse for the Harvard crew sits about a mile upstream.

Larry Abeln, director of the master’s program at MIT’s nearby Sloan School of Management, said he saw a lot of smoke, but no flames.

``I saw the impact of this blue helicopter on the corner of the boathouse,″ Abeln said. ``I heard this huge explosion and saw half of the helicopter sticking out from the corner of the building.″

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