There were no survivors. Two others were killed, but so far they have only been identified as friends of the Vanns, according to Fox 40. The crash occurred Sunday afternoon, August 1, 2021, in the small town of Colusa, about 70 miles northwest of Sacramento. The Colusa County Sheriff said in a statement that officials responded to a report at 1:15 p.m. that a helicopter went down near the highway. Colusa County sheriff’s deputies were joined by Sacramento River Fire Division personnel, and they discovered the four bodies in the helicopter, which went down near Highway 45 and Reservation Road, the statement said. Fox 40 reported the helicopter crashed into a tomato field.
The initial statement did not identify the victims, saying their bodies must be identified. The cause of death also must be determined by further investigation, the statement said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bill Vann Was a Prominent Local Businessman Who Owned Vann Family Orchards
Bill and Susie Vann were identified as two of the victims in the helicopter crash in a statement from the Almond Board of California sent to Fox 40. Bill Vann was the co-owner of Vann Family Orchards, which the statement described as “one of the largest almond processors in northern California.”
Vann Family Orchards has been a family business in Williams, Colusa County, California since the early 1900s, according to the company’s website.
“The Vann family began farming operations in Colusa County in the early 1900’s. From humble beginnings, the operation has grown to over 17,000 acres under production currently,” the website says. “Our significant captive tonnage garners excellent product custodianship from field to shipment, wherein we place controls over most processes in the supply chain. Through our business model we optimize traceability from finished pack lot to field of origin.”
2. Bill & Susie Vann Had 4 Children & 7 Grandchildren
The couple had four children and seven grandchildren, according to Fox 40. Bill Vann’s brother and business partner, Garnett Vann, said the death was a “shock.”
He went on to say that his brother loved both farming and business operations, and that staying involved with the processes of his company brought him happiness, according to Fox 40.
“Bill was a hands-on partner who loved both farming and business. For him, being actively involved in every step of the operation made him the happiest,” Garnett Vann said, according to Fox 40. “His loss is a shock to our family, our employees and our fellow growers. Despite this tragic accident, the business will continue to move forward as we have been planning for the future for quite some time.”
3. The FAA Released Preliminary Crash Data on the Incident Which Occurred in a Robinson R66 Helicopter
The Federal Aviation Administration released a preliminary crash report, which revealed some details about the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash along with the FAA. The report said the helicopter was a Robinson R66, a five-seat turbine helicopter powered by a Rolls-Royce turboshaft engine.
Here is the report:
Those onboard included a pilot and three passengers, the crash report said. It said the aircraft had not gone missing, and that the damage to the helicopter was “substantial.”
“Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances,” the preliminary report said.
The helicopter was en route when the crash occurred, and it was a private flight in general operations, the report said. The FAA’s investigating agency is the Sacramento Flight Standards District Offices.
4. The Helicopter Went Down in a Small Town Near a Highway & Officials Found the Bodies in the Helicopter
“Upon arrival, the first responder personnel discovered four bodies on board the helicopter,” the sheriff’s statement said. “The passengers were confirmed deceased at the scene.”
The Colusa County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation and interviewing those who may have witnessed the crash. The primary investigating agencies are the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.
“If anyone has information regarding this incident they are asked to contact Sgt. Arnold Navarro at (530) 458-0200,” the statement said.
5. The Colusa County Community Sent Condolences to the Families of the Victims
The Colusa County Sheriff’s office statement on Facebook gathered dozens of comments from people mourning the loss in the community.
“Known, loved and respected throughout the region, shock and profound loss has created a difficult time especially for their families and their lifelong friends,” William Boyes wrote on Facebook.
“So sad that we lost 4 of our community. Deepest condolences to the families,” wrote Darlene Roberts Spyres.
Others shared their stories of surviving similar crashes.
“A terrible tragedy! I remember how very devastated we all were when our helicopter went down. It was awful even though we had survivors!” Mary Thomas wrote.
“It’s terrifying to go down in a helicopter. I’m very saddened by this , pray for their loved ones,” wrote Gene Beauchamp.