Columbia Helicopters IDs victims in Peru chopper crash - WSMV Channel 4

Man originally from Oregon killed in Peru chopper crash

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Clockwise, from upper left: Darrel Birkes, Dann Immel, Leon Bradford, Edwin Cordova, Jaime Pickett. Clockwise, from upper left: Darrel Birkes, Dann Immel, Leon Bradford, Edwin Cordova, Jaime Pickett.
Darrel Birkes lived in Peru but was originally from the Portland area. Darrel Birkes lived in Peru but was originally from the Portland area.
Photo: Columbia Helicopters Photo: Columbia Helicopters
AURORA, OR (KPTV) -

Five Americans are among the seven people killed in the crash of an Oregon-owned cargo helicopter in the Peruvian jungle, including one man originally from the Portland area.

Peruvian authorities said the heavy-lift chopper crashed Monday after taking off from the provincial capital of Pucallpa.

The chopper was owned by Columbia Helicopters, which is based in the Oregon town of Aurora. It was under contract to support petroleum exploration operations in Peru, the company said.

The seven people who died in the crash were the pilot, Dann Immel of Gig Harbor, WA; co-pilot Igor Castillo of Peru; maintenance crew chief Edwin Cordova of Melbourne, FL; mechanic Luis Ramos of Peru; mechanic Jaime Pickett of Clarksville, TN; senior load manager Darrel Birkes, who lived in Peru but was originally from the Portland area; and load manager Leon Bradford of Utah.

There were no survivors.

Birkes' older brother lives in Boring, and he got the final word Tuesday morning that his brother was on that chopper.

"Everybody loved him," said Marvin Birkes. "I don't think he ever had an enemy in the world."

Darrel Birkes worked as a master rigger for the heavy-lift helicopters.

He was with Columbia Helicopters for close to 25 years, and he'd been living in Peru for more than a decade.

He was married, had two homes there and seemed very happy.

But Marvin Birkes says his brother always knew he was in harm's way.

"It's a dangerous job," he said. "You know, I knew something was going to happen someday, he knew something was going to happen someday. I was just hoping it was later."

Officials with Columbia Helicopters said they've reached out to the victims' families to help in every way possible, while an investigation team is already heading to Peru to figure out why this happened.

"We'll do everything we can to learn any causes we can learn from the accident and see if there are any remedies," said company president Michael Fahey.

Though Columbia Helicopters is based in Aurora, the company has offices in Peru and Papua New Guinea.

Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation.  All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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