Belize promises “thorough” investigation into fatal helicopter crash

The Belize government is promising that “a thorough investigation” will be carried out into the crash of a military helicopter last weekend resulting in the deaths of four members of the Belize Defence Force (BDF).

The mangled remains of the helicopter that crashed on Thursday (Feb. 27)

In a statement, it said that 25 members of the Honduran Naval Defence Rescue Team have arrived here and have been assisting with the recovery of the wreckage from the accident site and taken to the BDF Air Wing.

An investigative team under the command of Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral John Borland has been formed “and is in the process of gathering information in order to assimilate the facts surrounding the BDF U1H1 Helicopter accident which occurred on Thursday, 27 February 2020, and claimed the lives of four officers”.

The statement said that Captain Elton Bennett, Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard has been assigned as the lead investigator and that the team has also been joined by senior officers of BATSUB, the United States Military Liaison Office and the Mexican Military.

“A thorough investigation will be carried out to ascertain the facts of the incident”

“A team from Bell Flight Safety Group, who are specialized in the U1H1 Helicopter, is expected to arrive in-country today to conduct an air accident investigation along with the Belize Department of Civil Aviation. An initial report is expected to be produced within three days and a final report is expected in 14 days,” the statement added.

“The government of Belize and the Ministry of National Security assure the public that a thorough investigation will be carried out to ascertain the facts of the incident,” it added.

Rescue teams last Friday retrieved the bodies of the pilots, Major Adran Ramirez and Major Radford Baizar, along with their two crew members, Corporal Yassir Mendez and Corporal Reinaldo Choco.

The crash occurred at a time when authorities had earlier reported the seizure of a jet carrying 69 bales of cocaine in what is believed to have been the biggest drug bust in the country’s history. The helicopter was said to have been part of the operations.

Media reports in Belize have quoted the Honduran experts as indicating that there are no bullet holes on the chopper as was widely speculated.