Witnesses to Tuesday’s helicopter crash at Sacred Falls tell us that the pilot and three passengers walked to a clearing but then had to be rescued by another helicopter to get them back to safety. The crash happened around 11:30 in the morning at Sacred Falls State Park. Officials say there were three passengers and a pilot inside the helicopter when it crashed upside down. They say that chopper’s main rotor and tail rotor broke off from the frame. The Federal Aviation Administration tells us that the engine had lost power.
“Having been thru a helicopter crash myself many many years ago … When it lands upside down and you lose both of the rotors, it’s just really a miracle and we’re so thankful that they all basically walked away from it. Usually in a crash in the way it was described to me that usually doesn’t happen so we’re just really thankful that they’re all okay.
Witnesses say other helicopters and emergency vehicles then came to the scene.
“Finally they landed here. They were flying around first so I thought oh something’s going to happen here and finally it took a while and I saw three people,” said Patana Rattanasamay.
“Exciting. Many helicopters came. But at least everyone is okay. Happy no people injured,” said witness Manop.
Witnesses say there were three women and one man. The State Department of Land and Natural Resources says they were doing some field work for the Division of Forestry and Wildlife. The state says the pilot and chopper are with Paradise Helicopters which does contract work with DLNR frequently.
“Anyone who’s dealt with helicopters, unfortunately knows that accidents do happen with them. We wish it didn’t happen but they do happen. So I’m sure there will be a probe on our part but more importantly is the NTSB and the FAA investigation,” said Dennison.
DLNR says all all four people declined medical treatment although one passenger had a bruised arm. It’s not clear yet if the helicopter will be recovered. The state says that will be up to the company and federal investigators.
Sacred Falls is actually closed to hikers. And the only way to view it is by helicopter. That’s because of a deadly rockslide back in 1999. About a hundred hikers were at the base of the falls when it started raining rocks, trees, and boulders the size of cars. Eight people were killed that day, including a little girl. Next month will mark 20 years since the tragedy happened.