Guyanese man killed after helicopter crashes on Florida highway
A Guyanese man died on Thursday in Florida when a helicopter crashed onto the Tampa, Florida, US highway on which he was driving.
Dead is Deodat Ganga Persaud, 72. Persaud and his son were travelling in a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up. The son escaped with minor injuries.
According to abcactionnews.com, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said that a helicopter suffered a catastrophic engine failure and made a hard landing on 50th Street at Palm River Road a little before 14:30h on Thursday.
The news agency reported that Bryan Messick, 39, was piloting the helicopter while Joshua Wells, 21, was co-piloting.
After the hard landing, the ABC Action News said that one of the rotor blades came off, hitting a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck that was carrying Persaud and his son, 35-year-old Ryan Persaud. The rotor blade hit Deodat, who was a passenger in the truck.
Deputies said Ryan, who was driving the truck, was transported to Tampa General Hospital.
“You could start hearing the blades. I turn around and see the helicopter about like 20 feet above the air,” witness Alejandor Bou-Colon is quoted by ABC Action News as saying. “It tries to crash land in that patch of grass. But, then it kept on sliding and sliding until it hit that pole right about there and cut it in half. It was very scary. It was really close. It could’ve been us.”
According to Deputies, the two people in the helicopter were highly-trained pilots and had recently been in for service. The chopper was on its way to Sarasota before pieces of its blades fell off.
Dan Boggs with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska that the helicopter is brand new.
“It’s only a couple of months old. We will be doing a complete and full investigation,” Boggs said.
The pilot told investigators that he had a catastrophic engine failure.
“The pilot did a great job, he came in he was auto rotating which means he was using gravity to make sure the rotor blades were spinning fast enough,” Boggs said. “I looked at the surveillance video there was a truck underneath him. He made sure he did not land on the truck; he was floating it as hard as he could til the truck passed by if this had been on grass he’d of probably stopped right where he landed. He really did about the best job you can do in that situation.” The chopper is a Robinson R-44 with tail number N4046J. FlightAware tracking shows the path the helicopter took and where it crashed.
The NTSB expects to release a preliminary report of their findings in a couple of weeks. It will take at least 18 months for their final report.