Local News

Helicopter Pilot In Fatal 2004 Crash Indicted On Manslaughter Charge

Posted March 6, 2006

— Nearly two years after a helicopter crash killed a Franklin County sheriff's deputy, criminal charges have been filed against the helicopter pilot.

A Franklin County grand jury indicted Monday pilot Ben Barrick for involuntary manslaughter. Barrick is accused of flying the helicopter that killed deputy Ted Horton in May 2004, despite warnings that the helicopter was unsafe.

Shortly after the crash, questions surfaced about what happened to cause the crash.

Investigation later revealed that Barrick brought the chopper to Franklin County and worked out a secret lease with the sheriff.

The contract between the two promised an aircraft in excellent flying condition. Yet, a federal investigation revealed that fatigue failure in the tailboom caused the fatal crash.

According to reports, Barrick chose to fly despite warnings he had not properly maintained the helicopter.

Franklin County District Attorney Sam Currin said those kinds of facts led the grand jury to indict Barrick.

"He should have known. He was warned," Currin told WRAL. "He almost killed himself. He killed a fellow deputy."

Despite the ongoing criminal investigation into the crash, Franklin County commissioners felt legally compelled to pay worker's compensation to Barrick, a county employee, for back injuries he suffered as a result of the crash. Commissioners eventually settled for a total of $147,000.

Commissioners defended that decision, saying the criminal and personnel matters are separate.

The State Bureau of Investigation hopes Barrick, who moved to Tennessee after the crash, will return voluntarily to Franklin County to face the manslaughter charge.

If convicted, Barrick faces up to 20 months in prison.

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