VIDEO: Helicopter Removed From Tallahassee Lake

By: Julie Montanaro, Angelica Alvarez, Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Julie Montanaro, Angelica Alvarez, Lanetra Bennett Email

[UPDATE] by Lanetra Bennett - July 9, 2012 - 6:56pm

The helicopter that crashed into a Tallahassee lake has been recovered and is now in the hands of authorities.

We have video of recovery efforts from the Fourth of July crash at Lake McBride.

Authorities are investigating the helicopter crash that happened at Lake McBride early Wednesday morning.

Folks who live along the lake say it took authorities a few days and a few plans to get the helicopter from about 12-feet of water.

They say Saturday morning they stood and watched the recovery, and one man gave us video of everything he saw.

"After it tried to lift it up, actually came in this area just above where I'm standing right now."

Leon County resident Scott Johnson describes watching a helicopter try to get another helicopter out of Lake McBride.

A better way to describe it was for him to grab his camera.

Johnson says, "It's not very often that you have a chance to have a helicopter crash on your property, much less film it being extracted from the water. In this day of the Internet and YouTube, I thought it would be an interesting experience for everyone."

A Robinson R-44 Rotocraft crashed into the lake around 3:30 a.m. on July 4th.

Authorities say the only person on board was a student pilot. We're told he swam to shore and is okay.

Area resident Wendy Boyle says, "My husband heard the helicopter flying in. Then he heard, pop, pop and then total silence. He looked out the window and didn't see anything, couldn't hear anything."

Three days later, Johnson caught part of the recovery on camera.

He says a rescue helicopter dropped a line where the crashed helicopter was underwater. But, says instead of lifting, it ended up dragging the submerged chopper to the shore. Johnson says the helicopter was put on a flatbed truck and driven away.

Laura Goodfellow lives on the lake. She says, "It was impressive. There were five or six of us standing there. We were all wondering why they didn't just go ahead and lift it up and carry it off over the trees. We were speculating that perhaps it was too much water and that made it too heavy."

We spoke to a man who is listed as the registered owner of the helicopter. He said that the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have the helicopter. He says they are using it to conduct an investigation into the crash.

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Tallahassee, FL -- July 7, 2012 -- 7:13 pm

The helicopter was removed from the lake earlier today. Pictures are attached.


Video courtesy of S. Johnson
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Tallahassee, Florida- July 7, 2012
by Julie Montanaro

A helicopter at the bottom of Tallahassee's Lake McBride could stay there for days.

The helicopter crashed before sun up on July 4th. The pilot was able to get out and swim to shore. He was not hurt.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Thomas Diefenbach with Capital Helicopters says it could be early next week before the helicopter is retrieved from the lake.

He says the pilot who crashed is certified and was working on night-time flying requirements called "night currency" when he crashed.

Diefenbach would not release the pilot's name. Diefenbach says the man is "shaken," but otherwise okay. He says, "The fact he was able to bring the helicopter in for a landing without crashing into any trees or houses and was able to swim away is just remarkable."

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Tallahassee, Florida- July 5, 2012- 11:41pm by Angelica Alvarez

Lake McBride is usually a calm and serene spot to relax and fish. But just beyond a boathouse that sits on the lake is a crash site and just below the water is a helicopter, a Robinson R-44 Rotocraft.

"I was out fishing yesterday morning with a buddy of mine who lives out on the lake, it was about 8:00am or 8:30am," said Mike Bist, who says he fishes at the lake about three to four times a month.

It was just two hours before Bist and his friend hit the water that the helicopter went down.

"We saw a bunch of sheriffs deputies standing on the dock and they told us that an aircraft had gone down," said Bist.

At the controls and the only one in the helicopter was a student pilot who was doing a night training exercise when he went into the lake. Leon County Sheriff's deputies say the pilot was actually able to get out of the wreckage from under the water and swim safely to shore.

The pilot's name has not been released but we're told he is okay. As far as his helicopter is concerned, the Federal Aviation Administration says it will examine the aircraft when its lifted out. But they say it's up to the owner to get it out of the water first.

The helicopter was registered to Capital Helicopters in Tallahassee. No one there wanted to comment further than just to confirm that the pilot is okay. The FAA says once an inspector examines the helicopter the information will be turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board to figure out the cause of the crash.

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July 5, 2012 by Julie Montanaro

A helicopter crashed into Tallahassee's Lake McBride on the Fourth of July.

The pilot was able to get out and swim to safety, according to Leon County Sheriff's Office spokesman James McQuaig. He said the student pilot was on a night training exercise when the helicopter crashed into the lake at about 6:30 a.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash. Its on line accident data base indicates there was just one person on board the helicopter. It indicates it was a Robinson R44 Rotocraft made in 2008. It was registered to Capital Helicopters in Tallahassee.

A man named Thomas answered the phone at Capital Helicopters. He confirms that the pilot is okay, but said he could not comment further right now.

We do not know the pilot's name and have not been able to talk with him or her about why the helicopter went down.

FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen says the agency will have an inspector examine the helicopter once it is pulled from the water. Bergen says retrieving it from the lake is the owner's responsibility and she was not sure when that might happen.

Bergen says an FAA inspector will also interview the pilot. The FAA will then turn that information over to the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the crash, she said.


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