NTSB: Cameraman Who Died In Crash Was Tied To Seat

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A cinematographer who died when a Cessna 206 ditched off Key West, Fla., in August 2004 had tied himself to the seat with a rope, the NTSB reported last week. Neal Fredericks, 35, who previously filmed the cult hit "The Blair Witch Project," and his crew had chartered a Cessna 206 for aerial filming off the coast of the Florida Keys. Fredericks asked to have a rope tied around his waist and to the seat, even though there was a seatbelt available, according to the NTSB report. During the flight, the engine quit and the pilot ditched the airplane. The pilot and the other three passengers were able to escape, but Fredericks was unable to disentangle himself and drowned when the airplane sank. The assistant cameraman told the NTSB that when the airplane hit the water there was a rush of water into the airplane. He unfastened his seatbelt, took a gulp of air, and was soon outside the airplane. The cameraman said, "The rope," and he answered, "Cool dude, I got it," but the rope was ripped from his hand as the airplane submerged. He said he tried to dive for the rope and free the cameraman, but he could not reach it. The NTSB found the probable cause for the accident was the loss of engine power, but the reason that the engine quit was undetermined.