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Former Bothell resident, cameraman dies in helicopter crash
Bill Strothman, a KOMO 4 News cameraman and former Bothell resident, was identified as one of the two people killed in the helicopter crash near the Space Needle in Seattle this morning.
Strothman's son Dan Strothman graduated from Ingelmoor High School. Bill attended the First Lutheran Church in Bothell with his wife Nora.
"Bill Strothman's gentle, gracious and generous spirit has been a gift in our congregation," said a spokesperson for the church.
Strothman was a longtime videographer, who won 13 Emmy Awards during his career. After retiring from KOMO, Strothman worked as a free-lancer and also as an employee of the helicopter leasing company that operates the KOMO News chopper. Dan Strothman is currently a KOMO photographer.
“Many @KIRO7Seattle employees sharing fond memories of working w/ & being taught by photog Bill Strothman, who was tragically killed in crash,” said reporter Alexis Smith via Twitter.
The helicopter was taking off from the KOMO-TV station when it went down on Broad Street and hit three vehicles, starting them on fire and spewing burning fuel down the street.
Pilot Gary Pfitzner also died in the crash.
Emergency personnel immediately rushed to the scene at the height of the morning commute.
Two cars and a pickup truck on Broad Street were struck in the crash. Occupants of two vehicles were able to escape without injury, but the driver of a third vehicle was badly burned.
Witnesses said the 38-year-old man could be seen running from from his car with his clothing on fire, and he was extinguished by officers at the scene. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg says the man suffered burns on up to 20 percent of his body and likely will require surgery.
The helicopter exploded into a fireball on impact. Huge flames and thick plumes of black smoke poured from the blazing wreckage, about 50 yards from the base of the Space Needle.
Fuel gushing from the wreckage caught fire and burned for a block from the crash scene. Secondary explosions continued for several minutes afterward.
"Not only were the cars on fire, the fuel running down the street was on fire," said Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.
Firefighters stopped the burning fuel from entering the sewer.
"We all know him as one of the best storytellers to have ever graced the halls of KOMO," said news anchor and reporter Molly Shen, in a statement to the media. "It felt like a loss for us because he knows his craft so well, and he's such an artist and such a great journalist."