LASD

One Crew Member Remains Hospitalized After LASD Helicopter Crash Near Azusa

On board were two deputy pilots, two deputy paramedics, a deputy crew chief and a UCLA doctor.

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Only one crew member out of the six occupants on board an LA County Sheriff's Department helicopter when it crashed remains hospitalized Sunday, according to Mike Leum, veteran of the Sheriff’s Department search and rescue team.

Sgt. Kamal Ahmad, the crew chief on board was released from the hospital Sunday.

Officials say they have to complete their initial investigation before towing the wreckage off the mountain.

The crew suffered a variety of injuries after the aircraft crashed in the Angeles National Forest near Azusa Saturday, the LA County Fire Department said.

The crash occurred at approximately 4:56 p.m. near Highway 39 and East Fork Road as the LASD Air Rescue 5 helicopter was responding to the call of a car crash on Highway 39.

The crew crashed before arriving to the car crash patient. The car was later towed off the mountain.

The aircraft, which is usually used for rescue operations, landed just a few feet from a 200-foot drop, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a press conference Saturday.

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"The fact that it did not roll off, go all the way down, or that there was no fire is nothing short of a miracle," Villanueva said. “It was their turn to be rescued.”

This is the second helicopter crash in a month in Southern California.

On February 19, a Huntington Beach Police helicopter crashed in the water in Newport Beach when responding to a service call.

Officer Nicholas Vella, a 14-year veteran of the Huntington Beach Police Department, died in the crash and a second officer was critically injured as a result.

On board Saturday's helicopter when it crashed were two deputy pilots, two deputy paramedics, a deputy crew chief and a UCLA doctor. None of them suffered critical injuries, Villanueva said.

"We’re very thankful that everyone survived,” he added. 

According to the Sheriff's Information Bureau, as of 1:30 p.m. Sunday, three of the people in the crash were still in the hospital, while the other three people were treated and released.

The aircraft was a Super Puma medium lift helicopter, Villanueva said. 

The FAA and the NTSB will be investigating what caused the crash.

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