Colorado

Sep 18, 2010 12:20 AM by Matt Stafford

Automaker describes the scene before Pikes Peak crash

By the end of the day Friday, all four people injured in a helicopter crash on Pikes Peak were out of the hospital, but it was a busy day for emergency crews in place that's tough to reach.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office was called just before 8 a.m. Friday morning.

"A report of a helicopter crash on Pikes Peak about a mile down from the summit," that's what Lt. Lari Sevene with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said brought them out to Pikes Peak Friday morning.

A pilot and three passengers were aboard. All of them were sent down the mountain, and one flown, to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs.

They were released from the hospital Friday, but people are still wondering, what was going on moments before the crash?

That's what investigators want to know as well.

"We we're doing a moderate speed running up the hill," explains Brad Stertz, a corporate communications manager for Audi of America.

The German automaker as had a long connection to Pikes Peak area, after winning the Ascent years ago.

Now they're sending G.P.S. guided cars up the climb, with no driver.

"The aim was to have it run the entire length of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb," says Stertz.

Climbing to the peak with a film crew following in a helicopter, but the team fell short.

"Whether it was wind, we don't know what happened with the helicopter," Stertz says. "Not something we foresaw or certainly want to go through."

Now as people want information, they're clarifying what was going on.

"There was some talk that it was an Audi commercial and that's not true," explains Stertz. "It was simply filming this research project."

A project that locals tell us saw a car go off the road just the other day.

"It might have gone off, slightly off the road but nothing to serious," Stertz says.

Friday's accident was much more serious.

Audi crews say there were no controls or connections between the helicopter and the car, so the car didn't cause the crash. However, they're still trying to figure out what did. After that they'll likely try the climb again.

"I assume we'll still do that, but we still have to regroup and figure out what the next steps are after this," says Stertz.

The investigation is being handled by the National Transportation Safety Board and  updates on the cause of the crash will come from them.

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