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Report issued on deadly South Holston Lake copter crash

May 21st, 2014 8:05 am by Associated Press

Report issued on deadly South Holston Lake copter crash

Search teams use buoys to mark the site of the helicopter crash Aug. 25, 2012, in South Holston Lake near the Virginia-Tennessee state line. Photo by Rick Wagner

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A probable cause has been released in a deadly helicopter crash into a lake in southwest Virginia nearly two years ago.

Pilot Bill R. Starnes was at the controls of the Bell helicopter when it crashed in August 2012 in South Holston Lake. The body of the Blountville, Tenn., man was found in 80 feet of water.

The Bristol Herald Courier reported Tuesday that the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the low-altitude departure over the water in the dark and without lights led to the crash. The report states Starnes may have been unable to distinguish air from water in the dark.

Starnes was the chief pilot for the Food City grocery chain. He was ferrying people to and from races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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