May 23, 2007
Border agent dies in helicopter crash
Officer Down: Agent Robert Smith - [San Elizario, Texas]
Cause of Death: Aircraft accident
Additional Information: Agent Smith had served in law enforcement for 16 years. He is survived by his wife and mother.
Incident Details: Agent Smith was killed in a helicopter accident in San Elizario, Texas, while conducting a routine aerial patrol of the border area. The helicopter experienced a mechanical failure and crashed into a residential area.
Nearby citizens and Border Patrol agents immediately responded to the scene and removed Agent Smith and a Border Patrol agent who was acting as an observer. Both agents were transported to Thomason Hospital, where Agent Smith later succumbed to his injuries.
End of Watch: May 22, 2007
The Associated Press
EL PASO, Tex. — A small U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter crashed in a residential area during a routine patrol along the Mexican border Tuesday, killing the pilot and critically injuring the other person onboard after slamming into a backyard and hitting a pickup truck.
The pilot and passenger, who was a Border Patrol observer monitoring the area for illegal activity, were taken by ambulance to a hospital, Senior Border Patrol Agent Patrick Berry said.
No one on the ground was hurt, but one resident was treated for anxiety, Berry said.
A witness to the crash about 10 miles east of El Paso said the helicopter appeared to be coming from New Mexico when it suddenly started having trouble.
"They were flying along real good, then there was a snapping, popping noise," said Wayne Weaver, 47. "You could hear a light hum, then like a thunk." Then the helicopter disappeared and he heard a "boom," Weaver said.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.