How did BRPD officers & helicopter crash go undetected nearly eight hours?

BATON ROUGE, La. — It was 2:38 am on March 26th when a BRPD helicopter crashed near a cane field in West Baton Rouge Parish. The FAA’s preliminary investigation so far has revealed the chopper hit a tree leading to the crash. The helicopter left the BR Airport at 2:26 am putting it in the air for only 12 minutes.

Onboard that helicopter were two veteran BRPD police officers, Sgt. David Poirrier & Cpl. Scotty Canezaro.

Cpl. Scotty Canezaro (left) & Sgt. David Poirrier (right)

Nearly eight hours after the wreckage, Sgt. Poirrier’s father pinged his phone. When the phone showed up in a cane field in West Baton Rouge Parish thanks to the Life 360 app, the dad went to the location but could not get to the exact site. That’s when Sgt. Poirrier’s dad called WBRSO around 10:48 am requesting deputies to respond between North Winterville Road and Bueche Road.

WBRSO deputies found the helicopter crash and confirmed both officers onboard did not survive.

Scene of helicopter crash, March 26, 2023

BRPD helicopter crash
Flight path of BRPD helicopter on March 26, 2023 from 2:26am at the BTR airport till it’s crash at 2:38am

Since then, many are questioning how the crash went undetected for over eight hours.

Unfiltered with Kiran is learning new details to help explain a culmination of unfortunate events. For now, it does not appear that any department policies or procedures were not followed. That’s because it looks like BRPD does not have policies or procedures in place requiring specializing units to check-in.

The Baton Rouge Airport Control Tower is not manned from 12 am to 5 am. That means any flights taking off after midnight have no human being to ask permission of at the control tower before taking off. Instead, pilots announce they’re about to take off for any other pilots in the area. In technical terms, the airspace goes from Class C to Class E. Since the tower is unmanned, there is no one tracking the pilots whereabouts and whether they returned to the airport. There is also no one tracking any potential dangers the pilots are near such as other planes or choppers.

BRPD helicopter crash
Flight altitude and speed of BRPD helicopter flight on March 26, 2023

Then there’s the question about checking in with dispatch. Because the Air Support Unit is a specialized unit, they do not have to check-in with dispatch. They may advise dispatch at take-off that they are joining a pursuit with Air One, but there are no requirements to advise when pilots return or clock off. After dispatch calls off a pursuit, it is understood that all units, including Air One, stand down. Air One is not required to check in when it lands.

Plus, even after a pursuit is called off, Air One can stay patrolling Baton Rouge from the sky so there are no set times to when the pilots must return.

However, all aircrafts are equipped with an emergency locator transmitter, ELT. It’s an independent, battery-operated transmitter that activates during a crash or any hard impact. UWK is told in this specific case, the ELT did not activate on the Robinson-44 alerting officials to a crash. Had it activated, BRPD would have been notified immediately. It’s unclear why the ELT did not activate because sources say it was working in the last training earlier this year.

Despite the explanations, it’s something the officers’ families cannot come to terms with, especially when Sgt. Poirrier’s father is the one who had to find his son while he was on duty with BRPD.

BRPD does not work with UWK and does not respond to any emails or questions regarding cases. It’s why BRPD does not have a response in this report.

As per BRPD General Order 139, Public Information Officers may communicate with authorized news media representatives which is defined as “those individuals who are directly employed by agencies of the electronic or print media such as radio, television and newspapers.” The policy specifically states that “free-lance workers in this field are to be regarded as other members of the general public unless otherwise designated by the Chief of Police.”

BRPD’s legal representative Deelee Morris

The FAA and NTSB are leading the investigation into the helicopter crash. NTSB is in Baton Rouge as of Monday, March 27th and after a meeting with BRPD’s Chief Murphy Paul and other top brass, NTSB will officially begin investigating.

Autopsies for the two officers are pending. Because the FAA is leading the investigation, there are additional requirements when it comes to the autopsies.

Funeral dates have not been set at this time.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on any new developments.

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