Man who appeared in 'Ax Men' killed in helicopter crash near Salem

Man who appeared in 'Ax Men' killed in helicopter crash near Salem
Photo courtesy Linn County Sheriff's Office

NEAR IDANHA, Ore. – A man who appeared on the History Channel reality show "Ax Men" was killed Monday afternoon after a helicopter crashed in a remote area near Idanha, which is on Highway 22 southeast of Salem, according to the Linn County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Tim Mueller says the private logging helicopter crashed upside down near Blowout Road.

The pilot, William Bart Colantuono, 54, of Indialantic, Fla. was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The sheriff's office said witnesses of the crash gave deputies the following account: The helicopter, a 1962 Bell UH1B, was being used to transport logs from the cutting area to a log deck in Idanha. It had just returned after the pilot had taken a 45 minute break. 

The helicopter had picked up a load when witnesses reported hearing a loud snapping sound which was followed by logs hitting the ground and it appeared the pilot had released the logs electronically, indicating the pilot knew of a problem prior to the crash. 

Witnesses then saw a rotor separate from the helicopter followed by it turning upside down and falling to the ground. 

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are also investigating.

The FAA will inspect the helicopter where it crashed Tuesday, according to the sheriff's office.

The helicopter is owned by Umatilla Lift services, which is also from Indialantic.