Oreland, PA – Christopher Dougherty, a dedicated aerial reporter and photojournalist with WPVI-TV, tragically lost his life in a fatal helicopter crash at Wharton State Forest. The incident, occurring on Tuesday night, also claimed the life of 67-year-old Monroe Smith of Glenside, PA.
The chopper, affiliated with Philadelphia’s WPVI-TV, crashed in a section of Wharton State Forest in Washington Township, Burlington County. It was returning from an assignment near the Jersey Shore when the accident occurred around 8 p.m., as reported by the TV station.
Following the disappearance of the helicopter just before 11 p.m. on Wednesday, New Jersey State Park Police initiated a search. The aircraft had departed from Northeast Philadelphia Airport and was headed to Galloway Township, near Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore, for a mission.
Flight tracking data revealed the chopper’s final moments flying over Wharton State Forest before the unfortunate descent toward Philadelphia. Investigations continue into the circumstances surrounding the crash.
The crash site, nestled within the New Jersey Pinelands, comprises expansive wilderness spanning seven counties and one million acres, characterized by dense forests, rivers, and unique flora.
Condolences to our colleagues at Channel 6 on loss of their Action News team members in helicopter crash in New Jersey last night. Pilot and photojournalist were aboard when Chopper 6 crashed after 8pm in Wharton State Forest while coming back from an assignment near the shore. pic.twitter.com/NiQm96Nptl
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) December 20, 2023
The helicopter involved in the tragic incident was rented from U.S. Helicopters Inc., a North Carolina-based company, according to WPVI-TV.
In response to this devastating loss, family friends established a GoFundMe account to assist with Chris Dougherty’s funeral expenses, highlighting his exceptional talents in journalism and music.
6abc Helicopter Crash: Photographer, pilot killed after Chopper 6 crashes in Wharton State Forest. https://t.co/nyQ4yMCrHi Click the image to read more:
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) December 21, 2023
The community mourns the loss of Chris Dougherty, a remarkable individual whose impact extended beyond his professional accomplishments. Details regarding his obituary and funeral arrangements will be released by his grieving family.