RAF Helicopter Crash in North Yorkshire

Puma helicopter crash

16.08.2007

The Royal Air Force has confirmed that a full police investigation is underway into the Puma helicopter which crashed in North Yorkshire last week. The helicopter, from 33 Squadron at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, crashed at the Catterick Garrison on August 8th with 12 military personnel on board.

An official announcement confirmed that three men were killed in the incident Flight Lieutenant David Oxer Hanson Sale and Sergeant Phillip Anthony Burfoot, both from the Royal Air Force, and Private Sean Tait of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

A statement from the Ministry of Defense (mod) confirmed that the military authorities would be stepping aside for the time being in order to allow a local civilian investigation to be undertaken.

The mod said: "Following an initial investigation by the Board of Inquiry, the convening authority has decided that the Board of Inquiry should be suspended at this stage pending further investigation by the North Yorkshire civilian police authorities, which we will fully support."

The crash occurred during a routine training exercise. The cause of the crash it is not yet known.

Catterick Garrison is the UK's largest Army base, with 7,500 regular soldiers, 1,900 recruits and 2,000 civilian staff. It covers 2,400 acres and has 20,000 acres of training land nearby.

A private inquest into the deaths of those on board has been opened and adjourned to a later date. Nine other service personnel were injured in the crash. An investigation is currently being carried out by the civil police and Ministry of Defence and at this stage investigations are underway into a possible criminal offence.

Defence sources disclosed that the initial RAF Board of Inquiry raised suspicions of an offence having been committed. Neither the Ministry of Defence nor North Yorkshire Police would give any further information as to the basis for the criminal investigation.

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