Tuesday, January 11, 2022
UPPER DARBY, Pa. (AP) — A pilot landed a medical helicopter Tuesday with no loss of life in a residential neighborhood in suburban Philadelphia, somehow avoiding a network of power lines and buildings while that the plane floated, hit the street and slid into bushes outside a church, authorities and witnesses said.
It was a “miracle” that none of the four people on board, including an infant, suffered life-threatening injuries, Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy M. Bernhardt said.
Rescue teams rushed to the wreckage near Drexel Hill United Methodist Church in Upper Darby around 1 p.m. and helped pull the pilot, two crew members and the baby from the plane, a said Bernhardt at a press conference.
The baby was taken to hospital as authorities worked to notify the child’s family, Bernhardt said.
The plane had taken off from out of state. It is believed he encountered mechanical problems during the flight, a Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency spokesperson said, citing reports from county officials.
At the crash site, a corner stop sign was split in two and had apparently been hit by the helicopter as it fell. The plane was on its side in two pieces, just outside the stone church.
“It’s a miracle, it’s an absolute miracle, this is what you see behind me,” Bernhardt said, adding that he looked forward to shaking hands with the pilot for bringing the helicopter down the way they did. did.
A witness, Joshua James, said he was driving nearby with his wife and young son when he saw the tail of the helicopter sway back and forth as it came to a stop. He put his car in reverse.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that he didn’t touch any of the wires or anything – that he didn’t touch us,” James said.
Jerrell Saunders, 28, said he was returning from maintenance work at a nearby apartment building when he saw the helicopter “just hovering, like very low, like extremely low, like it could land on the building where I work.
He got in his car to go to the hardware store and the helicopter was heading in the same direction. He said he saw it hit the ground in the middle of the road and slide on the ground until it crashed.
“I assume the pilot tried to land in a safe area because he bounced off the ground and fell and, like, slipped,” Saunders said.
The helicopter turned on its side and, as smoke billowed, he saw people jumping out of the helicopter.
“I tell my grandkids about this one,” he said.
A fire official said the helicopter had about an hour of fuel remaining at the time of the crash and crews had taken steps to prevent leaking fuel from contaminating groundwater.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was a Eurocopter EC135 medical helicopter and the agency was investigating, along with the National Transportation Safety Board.
A spokesperson for Air Methods, the air emergency medical transport service that owns the helicopter, said it was part of the LifeNet program based in Hagerstown, Maryland. Federal agencies were investigating.
“Our team will cooperate fully with their efforts to assess the cause of this unfortunate accident,” Air Methods spokesman Doug Flanders said.
Beaty reported from New York.
This story has been corrected to show that the spelling of Saunders’ first name is Jerrell, not Jarrell.
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