Searchers initially had trouble getting to the crash site that spring day because of blizzard conditions, but when they reached the site about 24 hours later, they found three bodies inside the wreckage, one body outside, and now-15-year-old Quinn Ellington incoherent and wandering around.
While in the hospital being treated for serious head trauma, Ellington -- the stepson of one of the technicians onboard -- told his mother that he was responsible for the wreck, the report says.
And though the NTSB has not issued its final report on the probable cause of the accident, the factual report issued Feb. 19 points to the possibility that he may have been right.
The report notes that a fuel control lever was seen in the emergency position after the crash, which would have bypassed a governor that regulated fuel to the engine. An emergency fuel shut off lever was also in the off position, and a safety wire used to secure it was broken.
Altogether, the report seems to indicate that someone or something moved the levers into incorrect positions for normal flight.
Ellington told investigators that he had been sitting in the front left seat, and the NTSB report says investigators found that his backpack was likely near him in the cockpit, due to its position after the crash.
The report notes several other similar accidents that occurred after front-seat passengers tripped one of the levers -- located on the floor between the pilot and the front passenger -- either with their feet or by catching a purse or backpack strap on the lever.
"People who are generally crewmembers and that kind of thing, who are used to flying in aircraft, are aware of controls," Lewis, the investigator, said. "People who are not used to it generally aren't cognizant of their proximity to controls, or what they do, or anything else. They all become factors in this."
The helicopter also made several takeoffs and landings that day, the report notes. That typically increases the risk of something going wrong, Lewis said.
Investigators looked at several parts of the helicopter that could have failed and caused the accident, but they all performed normally in testing.
Neither Era nor the State of Alaska Telecommunications Division knew that the boy was onboard until after the crash.
A final report will be issued March 3.
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