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Karen Scullin reporting What could possibly be a critical clue to Saturday's Life Flight helicopter crash is still on the hillside where the chopper went down.
Saturday morning search and rescue crews will comb the area to try to find it.
It's small-- only about seven inches. But it could tell a big story. And search and rescue crews will be on a mission to find it Saturday morning.
Seconds before the fatal crash that killed pilot Brent Cowley, witnesses report seeing what they believe was the tail rotor fly off the Life Flight chopper. If that is in fact what happened to the hovering helicopter, recovery would have been tough.
Spike Kinghorn/Director of Operations, Classic Helicopter: "THE HELICOPTER'S GOING TO START THIS ROTATION THAT WILL ACCELERATE SO IT GETS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO REMAIN ORIENTED FOR THE PILOT."
So now, in search of answers, investigators are trying to find all the tail rotor parts. But one potentially critical clue is still missing.
It's called a trunnion. It's about five to seven inches and looks kind of like a small barbell with a ring in the middle of it. It helps turn the tail rotors. A major malfunction with the trunnion could be devastating.
Spike Kinghorn: "YOU COULD HAVE A CATOSTROPHIC FAILURE OF THE TRUNNION WHICH COULD POSSIBLY CAUSE THE TAIL ROTOR BLADES AND HUB TO COME OFF THE HELICOPTER."
Saturday morning several search and rescue crews will be combing the mountainside for the trunnion. The teams have already found several pieces of crash evidence, so the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have asked for their assistance once again.
Peggy Faulkner/ Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office: "I KNOW THAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO A SHOULDER TO SHOULDER GRID SEARCH. AND THEY'RE GOING TO WALK UP THE MOUNTAIN AND SEE IF THEY CAN'T FIND THIS MISSING PIECE "
If something was wrong with the trunnion, it wouldn't be visible in a pre-flight check, only during a scheduled maintenence overhaul.
If you're out hiking in this area and see that piece or any potential part, mark it, leave it, and call the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.