ARLINGTON – The 70-year-old pilot of a helicopter that crashed into King Lake Monday afternoon has died.
The man was identified as Ernest Stark of Arlington Friday by the medical examiner. Cause of death was drowning.
A passenger was in serious but stable condition. Both were transported by aid car from the lake southeast of Arlington to local hospitals. The accident happened around 1 p.m. and the sheriff’s office dive team responded. The helicopter had been airborne between 60 and 90 seconds when neighbors heard strange sounds and called 9-1-1.
Neighbor Jeffrey Abrams told KOMO News that he watched the helicopter fly 6 to 10 feet above the lake, then the skids hit the lake, and the chopper nose-dived into the water. “It was a significant loud bang, almost like an explosion.”
He asked his wife to call 9-1-1 and ran for his small boat. The helicopter had already sank in the water.
“I started to row,” Abrams said. “I just wanted to save those two men,” both of whom he knows.
One man was swimming toward a log, and the second was just floating. He picked up the floating man and eventually hooked him to the front of the boat.
Abrams told Q-13 that he tried to give chest compressions to the man on the side of the boat. He couldn’t pull him into the dinghy because that would have tipped it over, he said.
The second man got into the boat. As Abrams was rowing to shore, emergency crews arrived and began CPR on the man who was floating, Abrams said.
There is no word yet what led up to the crash.
Abrams said he was on his deck when the crash happened, enjoying the sunny day. He added that the pilot has flown the helicopter to the area in the past.
“It was traumatizing, nerve wracking, upsetting and frightening,” he said.