A helicopter crashed onto I-10 eastbound in St. John Parish, Louisiana on Tuesday afternoon, shutting down the entrance to the Bonnet Carre Spillway Bridge.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that only the pilot was onboard the helicopter at the time it crashed, according to NOLA.com. Acadian Ambulance sent two vehicles to the scene of the crash, but they didn’t leave with anyone in them.
The downed helicopter was a Bell 407 helicopter, per Fox 8. It was a privately owned aircraft.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are looking into the cause of the accident. Possibly coincidentally, at about the same time as the crash, roughly 20,000 people in the nearby suburb of Kenner lost power.
See a video of a vehicle on fire at the crash site here:
Helicopter Crash Shuts Down Interstate
State police responded to the accident scene and promptly diverted vehicles, preventing further injuries but snarling traffic for miles.
In the wake of the crash, authorities shut down I-10 eastbound and rerouted traffic to U.S. Highway 61 southbound. By 3 p.m., the backed-up traffic due to the accident stretched for three miles, per New Orleans Traffic.
Authorities also closed down I-55 southbound. Drivers were under advisement to use an alternate route.
Conditions Were Foggy Leading Up to the Crash
New Orleans saw periodic fog Tuesday morning, NOLA.com reports, but the fog had mostly cleared by the time the helicopter crashed into the highway.
While nearby airports reported visibility of 3 to 4 miles, a solid cloud deck from 400 to 900 feet could have interfered with a low-flying helicopter, National Weather Service meteorologist Danielle Manning told the outlet.
“Fog could have been a contributing factor,” added St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre. “We just don’t know right now.”
Tregre told the Associated Press that they’d found wreckage from the crash scattered across the bridge and floating in Lake Pontchartrain. He added that the FAA and the NTSB are leading the investigation into the accident.
Power Went Out in Nearby Kenner Tuesday Afternoon
Meanwhile, an Entergy substation outage in Jefferson Parish caused roughly 20,000 customers in the city of Kenner to lose power Tuesday. Entergy managed to restore power by later in the afternoon.
Drivers in the area reported that traffic lights went out on Veterans Memorial Boulevard, leading to further congestion, according to WWL-TV.
At its worst, the outage left more than 21,000 customers without power. Entergy is investigating the cause of the outage after working quickly to restore power.
See here for a map of the power losses: