'McRae to blame for helicopter crash'
6 September 2011 – A judicial enquiry into the air crash which killed Colin McRae plus his five-year-old son, a family friend and one other child has ruled that the 1995 World Rally Champion was ‘totally’ guilty for flying a helicopter without the necessary authorisation and in an ‘imprudent, unreasonable’ manner.
The incident happened on 15 September 2007 when the Eurocopter AS350 crashed into trees close to the McRae family home, one mile north of the Scottish town of Lanark. The event was soon investigated by the UK Department for Transport Air Accidents Investigation Branch with assistance from Strathclyde Police.
Today, it is reported by British newspaper The Guardian that Sheriff Nikola Stewart has adjudged McRae to have flown at a dangerously low altitude while performing ‘reckless’ manoeuvres in order to ‘thrill his passengers’. The 39-year-old has also been found to have not updated his documentation for flying the aircraft.
“He undertook significant manoeuvring at low level and the helicopter seems to have encountered significant g-loading as a result, to the evident enjoyment of his passengers,” the sheriff comments.
“The deaths and the accident resulting in the deaths might have been avoided had Mr McRae not flown his helicopter into the Mouse valley. Such a precaution would have been entirely reasonable. There was no necessity to enter the Mouse valley. There were no operational or logistical reasons to enter the Mouse valley.
“Mr McRae chose to fly the helicopter into the valley. For a private pilot such as Mr McRae, lacking the necessary training, experience or requirement to do so, embarking upon such demanding, low-level flying in such difficult terrain, was imprudent, unreasonable and contrary to the principles of good airmanship.”
There has been no reaction from the McRae family or that of Ben Porcelli, the six-year-old friend of McRae’s son Johnny. Also killed in the incident was Graeme Arthur Duncan, a 36-year-old companion of McRae.