Stewart Dietrick, James Sauer Killed in Helicopter Accident in Genesee County, NY
Genesee County, NY -- April 26, 2022, Stewart Dietrick and James Sauer were killed in a medical helicopter crash in Genesee County.
Authorities say the incident happened Tuesday as the two men were on a training mission in the helicopter. The cause and circumstances of their crash are still being investigated, but reports say Dietrick was training as an employee of Bell Helicopter when they went down in Genesee County.
The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Stewart Dietrick, James Sauer Accident in Genesee County
Clearly this is a terrible tragedy, and my heart goes out to the families of the men lost in the crash. I won't pretend to fully comprehend their loss, but I suspect at the very least we share a desire for more answers about what happened out there. It sounds like this was a training exercise, but that alone isn't enough information to say what went wrong. I hope the efforts of law enforcement can reveal some further information, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a helicopter expert among police ranks. With that in mind, they may reach out for federal help.
After many aviation accidents or certain commercial vehicle wrecks agents from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be dispatched to look into what happened. It's unclear if they'll step in to investigate this matter but I wouldn't be surprised--particularly since it doesn't seem to have a clear cause.
The NTSB is well-known for their in-depth investigations and careful analysis. If there are answers to be had, they're as good a choice as any and better than most for finding them. However, that comes with some drawbacks. People may believe involving a federal agency would mean the families of the men who lost their lives will get comprehensive answers about what really happened before too long. That's not unreasonable to think, but it's also based on a misapprehension about what those agencies are trying to find.
For instance, police look for evidence of broken laws above all else. While their assistance at the scene can be invaluable, they're agents of the state there to punish law-breakers. They don't specifically work to help injured victims or grieving families make sense of what happened to them. Likewise, NTSB agents' goal is to put together a report that can be studied by policymakers and used in creating new regulations that prevent future disasters. They try to be as comprehensive as possible while investigating, but that means their reports take time and no quick answers are likely to be released to the media or even to the victims' families.
What that means is that those same families may be frustratingly short on needed answers, both from vague or incomplete police reports and from waiting months or more for other agencies to gather and release their findings. Considering that most states only allow two years to take any legal action for remedy, and most attorneys will spend some time conducting their own through investigation with the help of independent professionals, relying too much on just government agencies could have a significant impact on victims' ability to hold the right parties accountable.