Last Crewmember of Downed Chopper Found in Gulf of Mexico

The body of the third victim of a helicopter crash in the Gulf of Mexico was recovered Tuesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lt. Kelly Skiles of the Coast Guard in New Orleans confirmed that the body of Lloyd Beard, 57, of Hallsville, Texas, was found Tuesday morning by searchers for Petroleum Helicopters Inc. She did not have details, and PHI Human Resources Manager Ed Gatza could not be reached for comment.

Beard, a Shell Oil Co. employee, was one of three men who died after a PHI helicopter crashed in the Gulf on Friday while coming in for a landing at a Shell Oil Co. natural gas transmission platform.

The Coast Guard reported heavy rain and squalls at about the time the pilot was last heard from about 10:15 a.m. Friday. The pilot, Quan C. Le of Euless, Texas, also died in the crash as did Shell employee Terry Higginbotham, 32, of Conroe, Texas. Their bodies were recovered late Sunday.

Higginbotham was an instrument and electrical specialist and Beard was an operations measurement technician.

The tragedy marks the seventh helicopter crash, three with fatalities, in the Gulf this year, according to National Transportation Safety Board statistics. The helicopter involved in Friday's accident was a Bell 206L3.

Another PHI helicopter went down in the Gulf on Aug. 13. Three people were killed and two were injured in that crash.

The October 10th crash is still under investigation.

In 2003, the National Transportation Safety Board reported the following Gulf of Mexico crashes:

  • On Sept. 12, a Go-Interests LLC Bell 206-B3 helicopter dropped off a Galveston 395 oil platform into the Gulf. The pilot reported rocking on rotors at takeoff. One of the four people on board was injured.
  • On Aug. 13, a PHI helicopter went down in an area near the Eugene Island Block 276. Three people were killed and two injured in the crash.
  • On July 8, a Texair Helicopters EC 120B helicopter’s rotors hit tie-down cleats at Ship Shoal 80 as it hovered above the rig’s surface. The craft landed in water upright with its floats deployed. Three people were on board and no injuries were reported.
  • On July 7, a pilot of a CFS Air LLC Aerospatiale AS350BA failed to maintain clearance with a safety fence as it hovered toward a landing at Ship Shoal 80. Two people were on board and no injuries were reported.
  • On May 11, power failed on a PHI Bell 407 helicopter. The pilot manuevered the craft downward and landed in the Gulf upright with its skid floats deployed. Four people were on board and no injuries were reported.
  • On Feb. 16, a Houston Helicopters Bell 407 helicopter’s engine failed. The craft landed in Gulf and tipped. Two people were killed and three were injured.