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NTSB will help investigate firefighter's fatal fall from helicopter

The U.S. Forest Service apprentice fell 200 feet while training to rappel from a chopper in Humboldt County. His sister says part of his harness broke off when he started his descent.

July 23, 2009|Associated Press

The National Transportation Safety Board is helping to investigate the cause of a U.S. Forest Service firefighter's fatal 200-foot fall from a helicopter near Willow Creek, Calif.

Authorities said Thomas Marovich, 20, of Hayward, Calif., fell Tuesday morning while training in Humboldt County to rappel from the helicopter.

The Forest Service says Marovich was a second-year apprentice in a helicopter crew fighting a 6,300-acre wildfire in the Trinity Alps.

Marovich's sister, Christy Marovich, told the San Francisco Chronicle that a cousin who also was on board the chopper said her brother had switched out of a defective harness before he jumped.

She said her brother got a new harness, but part of it broke off when he started his descent.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered Capitol flags flown at half-staff in Marovich's honor Wednesday.

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