Nov. 7 screening features SNC alumni’s reporting

When a Sikorsky 53E Navy helicopter crashed during a routine training mission in 2014, it sparked a series of investigations that would reveal a history of safety problems with the 53E, and failures by military authorities to take corrective action.

Investigative reporter and Sierra Nevada College graduate Jason Paladino received accolades when he broke the story as a graduate student at the University California at Berkeley. He has since collaborated with a team to bring it to the big screen in a documentary called “Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?”

Paladino will be on hand Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. for a free, public screening of the film at SNC, followed by a question-and-answer session. The screening will be held in the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences building, room 106. Snacks and beverages will be served.

In the aftermath of the revelations from Paladino’s reporting, the Sikorsky 53E has been dubbed the “deadliest aircraft in the U.S. military.” The film, directed by UC Berkeley’s Zachary Stauffer, frames one family’s tragedy against the inner-workings of the American defense establishment.

Jason Paladino

Paladino graduated from SNC in fall 2012 as one of its early interdisciplinary studies majors, where he earned a dual degree in outdoor adventure leadership and journalism. He worked on the staff of the Eagle’s Eye as managing editor, and launched its website in his service learning course.

Paladino went on to earn a graduate degree at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, and became a fellow in the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program. Together, Paladino and Virginian-Pilot reporter Mike Hixenbaugh produced a series of newspaper reports about the 53E helicopter. Paladino also assisted in an NBC Nightly News investigation of the aircraft. After his fellowship, Paladino began working with Stauffer on the film. He was instrumental in gathering public records, data, archival materials and furthering research for the film.

In 2016, Paladino was named Sierra Nevada College Alumni of the Year.

For more information on the film, visit