pilot seriously injured in helicopter crash in Everglades

 
Share

By WAYNE K. ROUSTAN
Sun Sentinel
Updated: 4:45 p.m. Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 12:05 p.m. Saturday, March 5, 2011

A pilot was critically injured Saturday morning when his helicopter crashed in the Everglades in western Broward County.

Mike Jachles/Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue flight medics return to the command post on a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission air boat Saturday, March 5, 2011, after a South Florida helicopter pilot crashed in the Everglades. A Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office helicopter spotted the crash around 10 a.m. and the FWC airboat crew was the first to reach the scene in the swamp. BSO Air Rescue dropped a flight medic off at the site so they could begin treating the 51-year-old injured pilot. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Air Rescue then hoisted the victim into the chopper for transport to Broward General Medical Center. The FAA and NTSB are handling the investigation.

Agencies from across South Florida launched a search for the downed helicopter and located the wreck about nine miles north of Alligator Alley and four miles west of the 34.5 mile marker on U.S. 27, according to Broward Sheriff’s Fire Rescue.

The South Florida resident, in his 50s, departed from Orlando Saturday morning and had made a stop in Pahokee for possible refueling. He was bound for Tamiami, Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said.

The Robinson helicopter crashed upside down around 7:30 a.m. The pilot used his cell phone to call for help.

“He was able to call somebody who called somebody who called somebody,” Jachles said. “It was literally third hand information.”

With no way to call the man back, agencies launched a massive search of the Everglades. Air Rescue from Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties were all dispatched and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Civil Air Patrol and civilian airboat teams assisted with the search, he said.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Air Rescue located the crash scene around 10:30 a.m. and the FWC had the first airboat at the crash site.

The pilot was found outside the wreckage and barely conscious. Broward Sheriff’s Fire Rescue lowered a flight medic to tend to him.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Air Rescue hoisted the victim from the crash scene and flew him to Broward General Medical Center.

“The pilot was very lucky to not only survive the crash but to get help so quickly,” Jachles said.

Aviation investigators are trying to determine the cause of this crash.

Staff photographer Mike Stocker contributed to this story.