Bill Strothman Dead: KOMO Cameraman and Gary Pfitzner Seattle Helicopter Crash Victims

March 18, 2014 Updated: March 18, 2014

Bill Strothman, a KOMO News cameraman, was identified as one of the two people killed in the helicopter crash near the Space Needle in Seattle on Monday.

Strothman was a longtime videographer who won 13 Emmy Awards over his career.

Many people mourned his death after he was identified.

“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 chopper 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.

Cristopher Reynolds, a contractor working nearby, saw the wreck. He said the helicopter lifted about 5 feet and was about to clear a building when it tilted. It looked like it was trying to correct itself when it took a dive downward.

“Next thing I know, it went into a ball of flames,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo

(AP Photo/KOMO-TV, Kelly Koopmans) 

Epoch Times Photo

(AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Mike Siegel)

Epoch Times Photo

(AP Photos/The Seattle Times, Ken Lambert) 

Epoch Times Photo

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

When firefighters arrived, they found the helicopter, two cars and a pickup truck on fire, along with a huge cloud smoke, Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said.

“Not only were the cars on fire, the fuel running down the street was on fire,” he told reporters at the scene.

Firefighters stopped the burning fuel from entering the sewer.

A 37-year-old man in one of the cars managed to free himself and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. He had burns on more than 50 percent of body, Moore said.

Workers at KOMO rushed to the window when they heard the crash. Reporters with the station were then in the position of covering the deaths of colleagues.

“We mourn the loss of a couple of our co-workers today,” KOMO-TV anchor Dan Lewis said on the air. “It’s so difficult for us to look at this scene, of the wreckage down there.”

On the street, reporter Denise Whitaker said, “It is definitely a tragic scene down here. It is a difficult time for all of us this morning.”

Story developing; check back for updates

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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