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Embry-Riddle professor, one other killed in helicopter crash near Fountain Hills

Headshot 2019
Posted at 8:02 AM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 20:38:28-04

FORT MCDOWELL, AZ — Authorities say a second body has been found at the scene of a helicopter crash near Fountain Hills Tuesday morning.

Video from the scene showed the aircraft down in a large area of alfalfa fields, extensively damaged from the impact. Debris from the helicopter was scattered around the fields and surrounding dirt.

Embry-Riddle announced Tuesday that one of the people killed was Rucie Moore, a professor and chair of the Prescott school's helicopter program. According to a release from Embry-Riddle, Moore was also a decorated test pilot for the U.S. Army earlier in his career.

“Our dear colleague, Rucie Moore, was an outstanding pilot, an Army veteran and distinguished faculty member with deep experience in the flight test arena,” said Dr. Frank Ayers, Chancellor of Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus. “His many contributions to the education of our students, including his extensive real world experience, was immeasurable. The entire Embry-Riddle family, our faculty, students and staff, feel his loss and extend our thoughts and prayers to his family.”

The second person has been identified as Stephen Estes, an engineering manager at Van Horn Aviation.

ABC15 first met Estes back in 2012 when he was an ASU star athlete competing in the Olympic Swim Trials. His goal was to swim in the 2012 Olympics. His career as an athlete though was nearly ruined. Estes and his brother stopped to help a stranger on the Loop 202 in Tempe when a passing car hit him, throwing him across the highway. The crash made the young man even more determined despite severe head injuries. He went on to graduate from ASU, majoring in mechanical engineering. He was also an avid lover of aviation.

FAA officials initially said the crash involved a Eurocopter EC135 helicopter, but later confirmed it was a Bell 206B aircraft.

It reportedly took off from Falcon Field and crashed under unknown circumstances.

Crews were called to the scene of the crash around 7:15 a.m. where smoke and flames were reported. The Fort McDowell Fire chief told ABC15 witnesses saw the aircraft spiraling before it hit the ground.

Rural Metro Fire Department says there is one reported fatality at the scene. The FAA says it's believed only the pilot was aboard the helicopter at the time of the crash.

The FAA and NTSB will be investigating the crash.

RELATED: Was helicopter involved in crash safe to fly?

Stay with ABC15 for updates on this developing story.