A helicopter carrying two Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologists and a pilot crashed last week in Kamiah between and Tuesday morning, leaving three dead.
"I am heart broken to report that this morning we had a helicopter accident near Kamiah," Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said. "Two employees and the pilot were on board. All three were killed. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and to all employees as we go through this difficult time."
Two were pronounced dead at the scene, the third was taken to a hospital but was later pronounced dead. Dead are Larry Barrett, 47 of Lewiston, who worked for Fish and Game since 1985, and Dani Schiff, 34 of Lewiston, who worked for Fish and Game since 1997.
"This is a sad day for Fish and Game and our families," Deputy Director Jim Unsworth said.
"Larry and Dani, our hearts go out to their families and the family of the pilot," Deputy Director Virgil Moore said.
The crash occurred behind the U.S. Forest Service building in Kamiah. The biologists were counting salmon redds -- spawning nests -- on the nearby Selway River. Fish and Game biologists have counted redds annually since the 1950s using fixed wing and helicopters.
The counts are the primary index of the status of naturally spawning salmon. Aerial counts are the only to way to count many of Idaho's remote and wilderness streams.
The helicopter belongs to Leading Edge Aviation of Clarkston, Wash., a company that contracts services to Idaho Fish and Game.
The last previous fatal Fish and Game aircraft accident was in December 2000 when a wildlife biologist was killed when the helicopter he was in went down while on a wildlife count in northern Idaho.
Earlier this year, on January 8, a helicopter carrying a pilot and two Idaho Fish and Game biologists crashed in the Kelly Creek area on the North Fork of the Clearwater River. None of the three people on board suffered life-threatening injuries.
Fish and Game biologists fly about 1,000 hours annually in aerial surveys, wildlife counts and capturing wildlife for research. Fish and Game takes safety seriously; all personnel are required to take safety training before flying and adhere to strict safety procedures.