MIAMI (AP) – Federal officials investigating a helicopter crash that a killed Mayo Clinic heart surgeon and technician say financial pressures contributed to the pilot’s decision to continue flying through deteriorating weather.
The National Transportation Safety Board published its probable cause report about the crash late Monday. The board found no evidence that the helicopter or pilot E. Hoke Smith of SK Logistics in St. Augustine were experiencing any problems.
However, the helicopter was not certified to handle the sporadically misty and overcast conditions on Dec. 26, 2011. Smith’s business had faltered in the recession, and the board found that his decision to keep flying was likely influenced by “his self-induced pressure to complete the trip.”
Smith was flying from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to a Gainesville hospital when the helicopter crashed.