I was just trying to get back to the NTSB's accident website to get the exact verbage off a preliminary accident report and it appears their web site is unavailable. The name resolves but it doesn't respond to a 'ping'.
Anyway, on 2 November a Robinson R44 disappeared while being flown by a (solo) student pilot from Lebanon (M54) to Cornelia Fort (M88). He reportedly was an experienced FW pilot on the final flight to get his private RW ticket. Turns out it had crashed in the Cumberland river. First the pilot's body floated up, which gave them a downstream limit for searching for the copter. When they found the airframe, the Tennessean quoted
the director of Sumner County's Emergency Management Agency as saying, "We're missing the skids and a part of a rotor blade." Because of a problem with the early R22s, I was expecting it to be found sans tail rotor gearbox but this news report seemed to indicate otherwise. Then a Gallatin newspaper reported
the tail rotor gearbox was recovered separately from the airframe.
The NTSB's preliminary report said nothing about the missing landing gear but did say the tail boom was detached (or words to that effect) and the collective was fully extended. Knowing how precise NTSB usually is in terminology, "detached" sounds more like it was snapped off the fuselage by hard impact with the water than severed by a dipping rotor blade.
I've found scattered reports on the Internet of law suits stemming from alleged R44 rotor problems and some vague references to blade delamination but no specifics. I've rented an R22 a few times and thought it was fun to fly (except for the zero-mass rotor system).
I still can't get to ntsb.gov but a search at aviation-safety.net shows (if I counted correctly) eight other fatal accidents involving R44s in 2008 alone and more than 60 altogether. I looked through maybe a dozen of them and it looked like there was a whole lotta pilot error going on.
Remains of the 'copter:
The collective still appears to be "full up" in this pic.