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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Fatal crash blamed on bad weather
Air accident investigator at the scene of a fatal helicopter crash in Somerset
The wreckage was found in the Blackdown Hills near Corfe
Three men and a teenage boy died when their helicopter crashed in "terrible" weather, an inquest has heard.

Pilot Roy Stevens, 54, Peter Bloxsome, 59, Allan Tartaglia, 44, and his son James, 15, died when the aircraft crashed in Somerset in 2005.

The Taunton inquest heard how the emergency services took 19 hours to locate the wreckage.

The occupants all died from multiple injuries after the helicopter hit a tree.

Mr Stevens, from Gotherington, Gloucs; Mr Bloxsome from Cheltenham; Mr Tartaglia, from Brockworth, Gloucs, and James Tartaglia from South Littleton in Worcestershire had been on a day trip in the craft.

Low visibility

They left Staverton airfield in Gloucestershire heading for Torbay, Devon, in January 2005, when they ran into difficulties.

Ivor Salter was working in his yard when he heard the helicopter crash. He told the inquest the weather was "terrible" with low visibility because of drizzle.

He said he heard the sound of the helicopter flying overhead and thought it was low. Mr Salter described how he heard the sound of the helicopter crashing and was "certain" it had struck a tree.

He dialled 999 at around 1230 GMT but was told no helicopters had been reported missing in the area.

It was five hours before police arrived at his property to investigate.

Mobile call

Andrew Robinson, from the Air Accident Investigation Branch, said the helicopter had broken up when it hit the trees at Priors Park Wood on the Blackdown Hills.

Allan Tartaglia, 44, and his son James, 15
Allan Tartaglia and his son James died in the crash
"It had been on a descending flight path when it struck trees travelling at an estimated 30-40 knots," he said.

"The high rate of descent resulted in disintegration on impact."

Mr Robinson said he had found no mechanical defects on the aircraft.

James's mother, Gillian, told the inquest how her son had called her on his mobile from the helicopter and seemed excited.

"James said he was in the helicopter and I could hear the propellers and he sounded excited, as if he was having a lovely time.

"That was the last time I spoke to my son."

The inquest heard Mr Stevens, a regular flyer, part-owned the Bell helicopter and had invited his friends for a trip to the south coast.

The hearing continues.

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12 Jan 06 |  Somerset
Internal inquiry on chopper crash
25 Jan 05 |  Somerset
Helicopter crash victims named
25 Jan 05 |  Somerset
Victims of air crash to be named
24 Jan 05 |  Somerset
Four killed in helicopter crash
23 Jan 05 |  Somerset

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