Phoenix remembers pilots, photojournalists killed in 2007 news helicopter crash

Friends and family came together at a Phoenix memorial on Wednesday to remember the four men killed in a news helicopter crash in 2007.
Updated: Jul. 27, 2022 at 5:00 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Phoenix news stations and the community are remembering the news helicopter crash that killed four people as Wednesday is the 15th anniversary. On July 27, 2007, two-man crews in helicopters for 3TV and Channel 15 were covering a police chase when they collided mid-air around 12:45 p.m. Both choppers came down in Steele Indian School Park in central Phoenix. 3TV’s pilot Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox died, along with Channel 15′s pilot Craig Smith and photographer Rick Krolak. No one on the ground was hurt.

A year later, a memorial was unveiled at the park to honor the four men who died. Every year, friends and family of the victims gather together to remember them and share stories. Flowers are also placed at the memorial, which has photos of the four men and a plaque about what happened.

To celebrate the lives of Jim Cox and his colleagues and make sure their legacy endures, Cox’s family has created The James Alan Cox Foundation for student photographers. It provides financial support to expand opportunities for young photojournalists. In honor of their memories, Arizona’s Family will make a donation to the foundation. During the last 15 years, Arizona’s Family has had 10 James Alan Cox Foundation interns, and there will be another one this fall. Cox’s family also donates cameras to high schoolers interested in journalism.

The James Alan Cox Foundation has helped countless young journalists launch their careers

Cox graduated from Arizona State University and joined 3TV (KTVK) in 1993. He worked his way up to be a cameraman in the helicopter. Bowerbank started flying for KTVK in 2004 and was a longtime pilot who was also a certified flight instructor.

Smith started as a traffic reporter and then learned to fly. He got his helicopter pilot’s license in 1990. Krolak had spent nine years at Channel 15 and was known for his smile and bad jokes. At the time of the crash, five different news helicopters were covering the chase. Today, there is one helicopter that is shared across five stations.