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 December 21, 2023

Two dead after TV news helicopter crashes

Action News is in mourning following the tragic crash of Chopper 6 in Burlington County, New Jersey, resulting in the loss of two valued members of the ABC 6 team.

The helicopter went down in Washington Township, New Jersey, shortly after 8 p.m., while returning from an assignment at the Jersey Shore.

The victims

The victims of this unfortunate incident are identified as 67-year-old pilot Monroe Smith of Glenside, and 45-year-old photographer Christopher Dougherty of Oreland.

Both had a longstanding history with our station, with Smith contributing to the Action News team through U.S. Helicopters for over 20 years, and Dougherty for 18 years.

The helicopter, Chopper 6, departed from Northeast Philadelphia Airport shortly before 7:30 p.m., en route to an assignment near Galloway Township, New Jersey. While returning to base, the aircraft crashed.

Flight tracker data indicates a decline in the helicopter's altitude during its return to Philadelphia. Chopper 6 was last recorded airborne over Wharton State Forest before the crash occurred in a secluded area of the woods.

The impact

The impact of their loss is deeply felt not only within the Action News community but also beyond, as investigators work to determine the cause of the crash.

Reflecting on the tragedy, reporter Katherine Scott shared, "Our hearts are just broken for these men. They're broken for their families. We just can't believe this has happened."

Monroe Smith, a retired army pilot, had been friends with retired Philadelphia journalist Pete Kane since high school, and they used to fly together.

Kane spoke of their shared goals and praised Smith's commitment to excellence in his work until the end. Smith, a proud father of a military pilot son and a new grandparent, leaves behind a legacy of dedication.

The families

Christopher Dougherty, survived by his two daughters and wife, was known for playing the guitar in the office while awaiting his next assignment.

Colleagues remembered him as someone who shared stories about his family during dinners and was always willing to lend a helping hand to a friend.

Maggie Kent, reporting from Northeast Philadelphia Airport, the chopper's base, spoke with colleagues who described Smith and Dougherty as highly skilled professionals with decades of experience, emphasizing their passion for their craft.

The entire Action News team extends its condolences to the families and loved ones of these cherished members as we mourn their untimely loss.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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