Roy Bennett’s Pilot Flew Too Low, Causing Helicopter Fatal Crash: Investigation
A report released this week says investigators found no problems with a helicopter that crashed in New Mexico in January 2018, killing five people including Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot apparently caused the fatal wreck by flying too low over mountainous terrain at night.
Besides Bennett, his wife Heather, a co-pilot and wealthy businessman also were killed. The businessman’s girlfriend who also is the co-pilot’s daughter was the sole survivor.
Federal investigators previously reported that the fatally injured pilot said he’d flown into terrain and that the accident was his fault.
The report did not identify pilot Coleman Dodd by name but New Mexico authorities have said previously that he was the pilot.
Bennett, former treasurer-general of the MDC-T party, won a devoted following of black Zimbabweans for passionately advocating political change. He was known as “Pachedu,” meaning “one of us” in Shona and was often called the sharpest thorn in Mugabe’s side. He won a parliamentary seat in a rural constituency despite being white, angering the strongman and his ruling ZANU-PF party.
The crash’s only survivor was Andra Cobb, 39, who said she was able to escape before the helicopter burst into flames, according to her mother. Andra Cobb’s 67-year-old father, Paul, of Conroe, Texas, was the co-pilot and her longtime boyfriend, Charles Burnett III, 61, of Houston, also was killed.