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Man reported missing after helicopter crash

October 14, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

A former Washington County man is missing following a helicopter crash Friday in the Gulf of Mexico about 80 miles south of Cameron, La. Family members said they believe he was killed.

Lloyd L. Beard Jr., 57, of Hallsville, Texas, was on his way to work on an offshore oil rig when the helicopter went down, according to his sister, Gloria L. Renner of Halfway. There were two other men on board.

Petroleum Helicopters Inc. reported the helicopter missing at about 11:30 a.m. Friday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Renner said she was told Monday by officials at Shell Gas and Transmission Co., her brother's employer, that the helicopter and the bodies of the two other men were found, but her brother still was missing.

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"I've already told myself he's not in this world now," Renner said.

A spokeswoman for Shell said Monday that Beard, an operations measurement technician, and Terry Higginbotham, an instrument and electrical specialist from Conroe, Texas, were passengers in a Petroleum Helicopters craft en route to the Stingray hub platform and compression station at West Cameron Block 509 in the Gulf. She said the bodies of Higginbotham and the pilot, Quan C. Le, were recovered at around 11:30 p.m. Central Standard Time Sunday and transported to Galveston, Texas, on Monday, where they were identified by representatives of Shell and Petroleum Helicopters.

She said Shell, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are continuing an "extensive search" for Beard.

Beard was a 1964 graduate of Clear Spring High School. He also graduated from Hagerstown Junior College, now Hagerstown Community College, Renner said. After a tour in the U.S. Marine Corps, he returned to Hagerstown and worked several years for Mack Trucks before joining Fleetwood Travel Trailers in Hancock. From there, he was transferred to Texas, Renner said.

Beard last visited the area in May, Renner said. He had come to see their older sister, Evelyn Anna Routzahn, who was ill. Routzahn died in July.

"We've had a bad year," Renner said.

He has several other siblings in the area, she added. Larry Beard lives in Boonsboro, Jacob Beard lives in Hagerstown and a sister, Grace Irvin, lives in Clear Spring. Another sister, Delores Doody, lives in Adamstown, Md.

Irvin said Monday that her brother was a "terrific cook" and that "he had a heart of gold. He had a strong belief in the Lord."

Asked whether she had a favorite memory of her brother, Irvin replied, "all of them."

Renner said she still hopes her brother will be found - particularly for the sake of her nephews, Lloyd L. Beard III, who lives in Iowa; and Jason Beard, who lives in Texas.

"It's not knowing - and if they don't find the body, I don't think those boys will get through that very well," she said. "I thought sure we'd have heard something by now."

Gus Noojin, president and chief executive officer of Shell U.S. Gas & Power, expressed condolences in a statement.

"Our thoughts go out to the families of Mr. Higginbotham and Mr. Beard, as well as the pilot," he said.

Coast Guard officials said the helicopter went down in windy, rainy conditions. Another of the company's helicopters crashed in rainy weather in August, killing three people aboard.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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