12 December 2017

US helicopter crash - Casualties

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A helicopter crash-landed on a residential street in Sherman Oaks on Friday without hitting any homes or people on the ground, and all aboard — three adults and a 16-year-old girl — walked away with only minor injuries, authorities said.

The chopper, a Robinson R44II owned by a Van-Nuys based company that offers aerial tours and charter services, made a “hard landing” just after noon in the 15000 block of Valleyheart Drive, said Battalion Chief Daniel Curry of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

“This was ultimately a good day,” Curry said. “It looks like the pilot performed with skill to avoid structures. There are residences in this area. He was able to put the helicopter down mostly on a street, a very not well-traveled street.”

The male pilot and three passengers — one man, one woman and a teen girl — sustained “minor, traumatic-type injuries” and were transported to a hospital for evaluation, Curry said.

When firefighters dispatched from the Van Nuys Airport arrived shortly after the landing, all four aboard already had walked away from the wreckage, Curry said. Firefighters found three of them sitting on a curb and a fourth one standing, he said.

No homes were damaged, and no one on the ground was injured, said LAFD spokeswoman Margaret Stewart. A small section of fence was damaged, she said.

The landing site is near the Sherman Oaks Castle Park miniature golf course and Fire Station 88, just north of the 101 Freeway and the Los Angeles River.

Valleyheart Drive was closed from Noble Avenue to Sepulveda Boulevard while the investigation continued, Stewart said.

The National Transportation Safety Board was notified and was en route to the scene, Curry said.

Richard Hart, president of Van Nuys-based National Helicopter Service, said the aircraft was owned and operated by his company, which provides tours and charter services in Los Angeles.

Sherman Oaks resident Christian Cabrera, 35, lives about five houses from the crash site.

“I just heard a helicopter propeller, a very loud noise, and I thought it was unusual to hear it that close,” Cabrera said. “The airport is a few miles down, and after that I just heard a big bang.

“It didn’t sound like a car crash. It sounded like a truck or something ... boom! And a few minutes later, I heard a lot of sirens go off.”

Ben Cox, who lives off Valleyheart Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard, was sleeping when the persistent sound of sirens woke him up.

“Then I saw the helicopters hovering. I saw all the fire engines and cop cars,” said Cox, 33. “It was crazy. It was so close. Luckily, it didn’t hit a house because that was my first thought. Luckily, it was just a fence from the looks of it.”

2017.07.22 / 10:38
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