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NTSB looking for cause of helicopter crash, photographer let out moments before

A helicopter being pulled out of the Fox River after it crashed Saturday, June 9, 2018, according to officials. (WLUK/Jerry Van Handel)

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WLUK) -- Two days after a helicopter hit power lines and crashed into the Fox River in Oshkosh, the National Transportation Safety Board is beginning the first of three phases in its investigation.

It's all in an effort to find out what caused the chopper to crash.

Photographer Pete Boden spent the morning flying around in the helicopter that morning. He took photos of speed boats participating in the Four Horseman Poker Run on Lake Winnebago while helicopter pilot Jonathan Bahr flew.

"At first it was 'a helicopter or the helicopter,'" said Boden as he recounted the moment he found out Bahr crashed.

He had just been dropped off moments later.

“Shocked, a little bit of sadness,” said Boden. “Mostly for the pilot.”

He said 27-year-old Bahr had never followed boats before, but he had plenty of aviation experience.

"He was in a good mood really happy and excited to be at the event,” said Boden. “There was obviously the wires at certain bridges. We just went to other altitudes to avoid them"

The circumstances that led the helicopter to hit power lines crossing the river remain unclear.

NTSB spokesperson Eric Weiss said the position of rotor blades and other instruments in the wreckage could give some insight.

There will be a three phases of examining the crash, including considering the last 72 hours of Bahr's life.

"Investigators will look at witness interviews, radar data, air traffic control tapes, meteorological information, history of flight,” said Eric Weiss, spokesman for the NTSB. “And also, to try and get any nonvolatile memory information that we can get to try and reveal the last moments of flight."

Right now the NTSB is in the first, on-scene, phase of the investigation. It could be a year be for the agency make a ruling.

The Four Horsemen organization tells us it raised nearly $15,000 from the boating community that will go to the pilot's family to help cover expenses.

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