Date: 08/13/06, 1756 hrs
Personnel: 4 Lives Lost
Agency/Organization: Evergreen Helicopters of McMinnville, OR under contract with the US Forest Service
Quin Russell Stone, 42- Pilot
Michael Gene Lewis, 37- Assistant Helitack Manager
Lillian M. Patten, 32- Firefighter/Wildland Full-Time
Monica Lee Zajanc, 27- Firefighter/Wildland Part Time
Two members of the Krassel Helitack Crew (Lewis and Zanjac) were aboard the Eurocopter AS-350-B3 helicopter. They were in the middle of a mission to replace the crew staffing a fire watch station on the top of Williams Peak, where Patton was assigned as a lookout. The drop was completed and the offgoing crew was aboard the helicopter returning to the base. For reasons unknown, the helicopter crashed on a mountainside at an elevation of approximately 1,800 feet. All on board were killed.
- Preliminary Info from Payette National Forest: News Release (6K pdf)
- Expanded Briefing from US Forest Service: 72 HR Report (120K pdf)
- Information from the NTSB, FAA, USFS, AAP and research by the WLF Staff:
- July 29, 1994 - Tanker 04
- 4 killed: Quin Stone, Michael Lewis, Lillian Patten, Monica Zajanc
- Evergreen Helicopters
- Eurocopter A-Star-350-B3
- impacted terrain near Yellow Pine, ID
- FAA Registration #N355EV
- NTSB # SEA06GA158
- National Transportation Safety Board: Factual Report (91 K pdf)
- National Transportation Safety Board: Probable Cause (html) | Probable Cause (232 K pdf)
The pilot's intentional low altitude flight and his failure to maintain an adequate altitude to clear the trees.
- National Transportation Safety Board: Full Narrative (html)
- For more information on this crash, visit the NTSB Query utility: # SEA06GA158
- FS Heroes Memorial: Quin Stone | Michael Lewis | Lillian Patten | Monica Zajanc
- WLF Hotlist Thread: ID-NTSB Probable Cause-Krassel Helicopter crash
- 4 Dead in Idaho Helicopter Crash Carrying Emergency Wildfire Workers
August 14, 2006 | Online Article
YELLOW PINE, Idaho — A helicopter on a wildfire mission crashed in the Payette National Forest, killing the pilot and all three forest workers aboard, authorities said.
A firefighting team found the wreckage late Sunday afternoon, about a half hour after the helicopter went down on a forest road 100 miles northeast of Boise, forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig said.
A fire engine crew was called to put out a small fire amid the wreckage, but all four people aboard the helicopter were dead, Hartwig said. He declined to release further details. The cause of the crash of the A-Star helicopter was under investigation.
Fire crews have been working in the Payette National Forest to protect the cabin community of Yellow Pine from an 11-square-mile complex of fires. Bands of dry lightning sparked dozens of timber fires in the area over the past week and firefighters from other regions have been sent to help out.
- Goodness Grows
Speaker at dedication of 2006 copter crash memorial uses sunflowers as symbol
August 15, 2006 | Online Article by Michael Wells (no longer online)
Family members who came to mourn the victims of a 2006 helicopter crash near Yellow Pine were greeted on Saturday with sunflowers. Payette Forest Supervisor Suzanne Rainville handed out the sunflower during the ceremony, held on a hillside above the East Fork of the South Fork River.
The ceremony dedicated a memorial stone an plaque honoring pilot Quin Stone, helicopter rappellers Michael Lewis and Monica Zanjanc and fire lookout Lillian Patten, who died in the Aug. 13, 2006 helicopter crash “The sunflower represents hope,” Rainville told those gathered. “I am sure Quin, Mike, Monica and Lily would want all of us to continue their hope and joy.”
“One can’t help but smile when given a sunflower,” Rainville said. “It spreads happiness to those who receive it.” The flowers were a symbol radiating “goodness” just like the goodness radiated from the four who died three years ago, she said.
About 80 people came out to the remote site to remember the victims, who died while on a four-mile routine flight from Williams Peak Lookout to the Krassel Guard Station.
“Eventually this monument will blend together with all of those that have passed before us,” Payette Forest Fire and Aviation Officer Gary Brown said. “They will become part of the folklore that is the South Fork of the Salmon River.”
Rainville recited the poem “Something Grew,” and made parallels between the sunflower and the four who died:
“I remember the day we planted them.
They were just seeds, so small.
I wondered, ‘would they ever grow
To be anything at all?’
We watered them with showers of blessings.
They were nourished by the Son.
Then, one day, they started to grow
And they blossomed, one by one.
The first seed blossomed into trust.
The second seed bloomed with love.
Another seed blossomed into admiration.
Yet, all were blessed from up above.
I remember the day we planted them.
The seeds were all so new.
We waited and waited and wondered
And from them something grew.”
A friend of Stone’s, Al Choy of Steamboat Springs, Colo., hoped that he would someday be remembered as his friend was being remembered Saturday. Choy said the victim were “lucky to remain forever young.”
One of Patten’s uncles, David Tufenkian, of Portland, Ore., said Lillian had spoken to a relative in a dream after the crash. In the dream, she said she was at peace and that life goes on beyond this life, Tufenkian said. She urge the living to avoid her mistake of worrying too much during her earthly life, Tufenkian said.
Four shots of whisky were poured by Monica Zajanc’s mother, Nolene Hollifield of Boise and placed on the ground in front of the memorial. Bryan Stone, Quin’s father, added chocolate bars.
The memorial plaque was built on site by Krassel District Fire Officer Sam Hescock and Doran and Theresa Wheeler of Weiser. A sign will be placed on the East Fork Road marking the trailhead to a short trail that leads up to the memorial site, Hescock said. A bench will also be placed at the site.
- The Terrible Cost of Fighting Wildfires
August 16, 2006 | Online Article by Adam Rodriguez
Firefighters are battling 56 wildfires nationwide, 17 in Idaho. But their efforts come at a terrible cost most Idahoans aren't aware of.
It was a year ago Monday that Monica Zajanc was killed with three other firefighters when their helicopter went down in Valley County. Her mother, Nolene Hollifield says Monica was, “A beautiful girl; very strong, very intelligent, very independent. And I'm very proud of her and what she did and who she was. I miss her."
But Nolene has found some comfort at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Boise. "They would stop and let me sit,” Nolene says, “and if I wanted to talk, they let me talk. If I just wanted to wander and cry, they let me do that, too." Monica's picture is one of many hanging on the foundation's walls and president Vicki Minor knows every one by heart.
"As I age, the thing that's most important to me is to help people when they need it the most,” Vicki says. “And when they lose a son or a daughter or a husband or a wife, in their darkest hours, we're there with them."
The foundation gets treatment for injured firefighters, helps pay for expenses, and even looks after the children of fallen heroes. In fact, Vicky does everything a mother would do for her child. But she needs help.
"We could use a lot of help. we have a lot of expenses going out, helping all the families that we do." Next week, the foundation will begin airing commercials to raise money for their cause, because when tragedy strikes everyone can use a helping hand. No one knows that better than Nolene.
“If you knew the people that worked here personally, you'd know they do that from their heart. They do it because they want to, because they love what they're doing, because they see that need out there and they see no-one else jumping in to fill that need."
More than anything, Vicki says the Wildland Firefighter Foundation needs money. If you'd like to help, you can call them at 336-2996. Or go to their website at www.wffoundation.org.
- Probe begins into fatal helicopter crash at Idaho wildfire
August 15, 2006 | Online Article
- Low flight deemed cause of 2006 helicopter crash
June 6, 2007 | Online Article
- Dedication of Krassel Memorial To Take Place This Saturday: US Forest Service
- In Memory of Monica Zajanc
- From Legacy.com: Guest Book for Monica Zajanc
- In Memoriam: Lillian Patten and Monica Zajanc
- Wildland Firefighter Foundation: Micahel Lewis
- Tribute to Krassel Helitack Members from Tom Harbour: Fire Management Today (91K pdf)
- From SOS Forests: In Memoriam
- NOTE: Monica Zajanc had survived the Little Venus Entrapment in Wyoming just 3 weeks prior to this crash
- Comments and Thoughts on the Little Venus Entrapment: SOS Forests
Contributors to this article: Vicki Minor, Kay Lewis, Mellie, John Miller, and numerous FS and fire friends on the Payette NF and across the country.
Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation