Local News

D.A. Calls For Criminal Investigation Into Franklin County Helicopter Crash

Posted June 15, 2005

— The Franklin County district attorney said Tuesday that there will be a criminal investigation into a May 2004 helicopter crash that killed a sheriff's deputy.

District Attorney Sam Currin is calling for the investigation after Franklin County commissioners made their own request and after he reviewed a damaging report from the National Transportation Safety Board that points blame toward the pilot.

"I'd like for them to look into possible charges against Ben Barrick for a homicide charge, specifically for involuntary manslaughter alleging that he was criminally negligent by taking up a helicopter that he was told by some mechanics was not airworthy," Currin said.

Just over a year ago, the helicopter crashed in Louisburg, killing Franklin County Deputy Ted Horton. The helicopter crash has since raised questions about the integrity of the pilot, Barrick, and Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones.

Jones, who county commissioners said purchased the chopper without asking the county, is also part of the investigation, but Currin said he is not yet convinced the sheriff broke the law.

"Whatever the sheriff may have done, I don't know that anything the sheriff did would rise to the level of criminal conduct, but it's possible," Currin said.

WRAL tried to contact Jones, but was unsuccessful in its attempts.

Currin said it could take a couple of months to determine if charges will be filed.

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