ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A longtime reporter-videographer at an Albuquerque TV station has died after the news helicopter he was piloting crashed and burned in a field near a New Mexico ghost town, authorities said Sunday.
Bob Martin, 64, was pronounced dead at the crash scene Saturday night, according to New Mexico State Police. The Bell B206 helicopter was destroyed, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Lynn Lunsford.
KRQE-TV said Martin worked for the station for more than 20 years, frequently shooting, writing and editing stories. It was not clear whether Martin was assigned to cover a story when the crash happened.
“He was behind, or above, some of the biggest news stories on KRQE for the last three decades,” station manager Bill Anderson said in a statement. “Yet he was rarely around for the high fives because he was already on to the next news story.”
KRQE said the helicopter crashed about 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Lunsford said the crash site was near the central New Mexico ghost town of Ancho, a former railroad and ranching community.
State Police said officials were notified of a downed aircraft shortly after 5 p.m. and found the remnants of the helicopter and its sole occupant.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were investigating the cause of the crash.
Martin graduated from New Mexico’s Socorro High School and earned a mass communications and journalism degree at Eastern New Mexico University, KRQE said.
Martin often covered wildfires. He won two Rocky Mountain Emmys and several Albuquerque Press Club awards for his reporting and documentary work, the station said.
Martin also reported from combat zones about New Mexico-based military troops and civilians deployed to hotspots including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Martin was a commercial helicopter and airplane pilot, had an expert sport skydiver’s license and enjoyed scuba diving.
KRQE did not immediately provide details about Martin’s survivors or funeral plans.
The helicopter was owned by Lin Television Corp., based in Providence, Rhode Island, FAA online records said.
Information from: KRQE-TV, http://www.krqe.com