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Charges Likely For Pilot In Fatal Franklin County Helicopter Crash

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FRANKLINTON, N.C. — The pilot of a helicopter crash that killed a Franklin County sheriff's deputy will likely face criminal charges this spring, according to the county's lead prosecutor.

In June 2005, Franklin County District Attorney Sam Currin asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into possible charges against Ben Barrick for his role in the May 2004 helicopter crash that killed Deputy Ted Horton.

Horton was flying in the helicopter doing surveillance for the sheriff's department on May 14, when it crashed in Louisburg. Since then, the crash has raised questions about Barrick's integrity.

Currin told WRAL that evidence keeps mounting that Barrick knowingly took an unsafe chopper that he was not properly trained to fly. Barrick, who lacked a pilot's license, had promised Sheriff Jerry Jones an aircraft in excellent flying condition, but an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the crash was caused by fatigue and failure on the tailboom.

The NTSB report also concluded that despite directives to inspect the chopper, inadequate maintenance led to the crash.

In addition to possibly facing criminal charges, Barrick was named in a lawsuit filed in April 2005 by Tennessee-based Citizens Bank. The lawsuit claimed Jones and others fraudulently submitted paperwork to secure an $80,000 loan for the helicopter that crashed.

Barrick, in August, filed a motion to have his name removed from the lawsuit, listing 14 reasons why he should not have to repay the bank.

Currin is expected to meet with the SBI about the case on Friday.


Cullen Browder, Reporter
Greg Clark, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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