MapsReportsWLF LinksMedia ArticlesMultimediaComments


Incident Name: Firefighters being ferried from the 6,200 acre Pigeon Fire to the smaller Guide Fire, both in the Gila National Wilderness
Date: 7/12/1994
Personnel: 3 lives lost
Agency/Organization: 2 US Forest Service employees and 1 pilot for Briles Wings and Helicopter of Van Nuys, CA
Position: helicopter pilot, one helicopter firefighter and one helitack firefighter


Robert Boomer, pilot
Anthony Sean Gutierrez, helicopter firefighter from the Gila National Forest
Sam "Vinagron" Smith, helitack from the Gila National Forest

On July 12, Pilot Robert Boomer of Briles Wing and Helicopter and Helitack Firefighters Sean Gutierrez and Sam Smith of the U.S. Forest Service were killed when their helicopter experienced a hard landing while transporting them for an initial attack on the Guide Fire burning at 9,520 feet in the Black Range of the Gila National Forest near Mimbres NM. Two other crew members were injured in the crash and were taken to the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City.

Horizontal line


Mimbres, NM: The location where the helicopter went down was about 30 mi NE of Silver City, NM

Map pin location is Mimbres, NM. Description of the incident site also includes Black Range of the Gila NF; 35 miles from Silver City. (Silver City is 20 miles from Mimbres, NM.)

Return to top

Horizontal line

Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from the NTSB, FAA, USFS, and research by the WLF Staff:
    • July 12, 1994 - Guide Fire Helicopter accident
    • 3 killed: Robert Boomer, Anthony Sean Gutierrez, Samuel C. Smith; 2 injured. one seriously
    • Operator: Briles Wing under contract with the US Forest Service
    • Type: Bell 206L-3
    • hard landing in the Gila NF, near Mimbres NM
    • FAA Registration # N3178B
    • NTSB # FTW94GA232
  • Forest Service Investigations - Fatal Aviation Accident History (1979-2000): Pages 69-71 for this incident (289 K pdf) | Entire History (download 4.72 MB pdf)
  • National Transportation Safety Board Probable Cause (26 K pdf)

    The pilot's improper decision to attempt to hover out of ground effect under adverse conditions while exceeding the maximum allowable weight for that maneuver. Factors in the accident were: high density altitude and the tailwind.

  • NTSB Factual Report (86 K pdf)
  • For more information consult the NTSB online lookup Utility Use NTSB Identification: FTW94GA232
  • Flight Safety Foundation ( Flight Safety Digest, Vol 25, No. 6, Nov-Dec 1999, Rotor Wing Accidents 1974-1998 (102 K pdf)
  • Bob's, Anthony's and Sam's names, death date and brief bio are included in the USFA Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study, published April 2002 (2,888 K pdf)
  • US Forest Service Heroes Memorial: Robert Boomer | Anthony Gutierrez | Sam Smith

Return to top
Horizontal line Links:



Return to top

Horizontal line

Media Articles and Reports.

  • 2 Firefighters, Pilot Killed in N.M. Crash

    July 13, 1994 | Excerpt from USA Today

    Two U.S. Forest Service firefighters and a pilot were killed Tuesday when a helicopter crashed in a remote area of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, said forest spokesman Chuck Tonn. Two other firefighters survived the crash: one was in stable condition at an area hospital; the other was treated and released. The crew, which had been fighting a 6,200-acre fire in the forest (Pigeon Fire), was en route to another smaller blaze (Guide Fire) less than a mile from the crash. The crash - 35 miles from Silver City - started another fire in the tinder-dry terrain. The crash follows the deaths last Wednesday of 14 firefighters battling a wildfire near Glenwood Springs, Colo. So far, this fire season is one of the worst for firefighter deaths since recordkeeping began in 1926.

  • Copter Crash Kills Pilot and 2 Firefighters in NM National Forest

    July 14, 1994 | Online aAticle

Return to top

Horizontal line

Photos, Videos, & Tributes

Return to top

Contributors to this article: Mellie

WFF Boots & Wreath logo. Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation