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Tragedy: Ozark’s Backwoods Festival Helicopter Crash

Three dead, one gravely injured after sightseeing helicopter crashes at the Backwoods Festival, in Ozark, Arkansas. Early reports came in the form of posts to social media.

On June 2nd, at approximately 8:00 PM EST, festival organizers for the Backwoods Festival at Mulberry Mountain announced that the festival would no longer continue in an effort to help search and rescue workers recover the crash site of a Robinson R44 helicopter containing four people.

The collision left three dead and one in critical condition. An aircraft had mysteriously crashed somewhere within Ozark National Forest. This had occurred at least an hour earlier some 500 yards south of the festival grounds. Tulsa County authorities were notified once the pilot, Chuck Dickson, did not return from the scheduled six minute flight. He was due to return with the passengers at 7:00 PM. 

Initial reports did not name the victims involved. However, authorities have released the names of the deceased; Chuck Dickson of Tulsa, OK, Sarah Hill of Austin, TX, and Marco Ornelas of Mexico. The fourth passenger was taken to Oklahoma Hospital, in critical condition, with multiple broken bones and internal injuries. Investigators from the FAA and NTSB have not determined the reason for the crash and are still continuing to investigate. This is why medical staff is important at festivals.

Official statement

The fatal accident was especially tragic for festival organizers. This was because all three passengers had direct ties to the festival as employees and friends of the company. A statement from the organizers was posted on Facebook. The parents of Sarah Hill also released an official statement via Facebook:

“It is with a sad heart that we report the tragic accident and the loss of our daughter Sarah. While working at the Backwoods Music Festival in Arkansas, Sarah and two of her friends took an aerial tour of the festival in a helicopter, and it crashed yesterday evening.

We do not have any other details at this time due to the difficulty the authorities have in accessing the location in order to conduct an official investigation of the wreckage. We felt that Facebook was the quickest way to let everyone know, and we thank you all for your prayers and support as we celebrate the 24 years of her life that God blessed us with.”

Statement: Parents of Sarah Hill.

About Backwoods Music Festival

Backwoods Music Festival is a three- to four-day camping, music, and arts festival. 

The festival began in 2008 as Backwoods Bash, a localized non-profit event. It featured local Red Dirt, Folk, Indie, Jamband, and Americana music that took place in Keystone Lake Park in PrueOklahoma, over Memorial Day weekend. The event benefited kids in need of technology and other school supplies through the TC Lane Foundation. After seven years as a non-profit event with several different benefactors, the event took on investors to grow and add EDM (Electronic Dance Music). It later went on to include other contemporary genres. Now, most consider this a ‘cross-over’ festival.

The festival rebranded itself in 2014, changing names to Backwoods Music Festival, changing locations to The Tatanka Ranch, a holiday ranch located near Route 66 in Stroud, Oklahoma, and changing dates to Labor Day weekend. To check out more about festivals alike click here.

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