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Helicopter With Crew Crashes in National Forest on Way to Car Accident

Newsweek 3/20/2022 Thomas Kika
Five deputies and one civilian were injured in a helicopter crash on Saturday in the Angeles National Forest, seen above, while responding to a car accident. © David McNew/Getty Images Five deputies and one civilian were injured in a helicopter crash on Saturday in the Angeles National Forest, seen above, while responding to a car accident.

Several people were injured when a helicopter crashed near a national forest on Saturday afternoon as it was on its way to respond to a car accident.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Air Rescue 5 helicopter was en route to a vehicle collision when the aircraft went down at approximately 4:30 p.m. in Angeles National Forest, near the San Gabriel Mountains.

A total of six individuals were injured in the crash including five sheriff's deputies and one civilian. All are expected to survive, sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a Saturday evening press conference outside Pomona Valley Hospital. The deputies included a pilot, copilot, crew chief, and two paramedics. The civilian involved was a UCLA doctor, who was conducting a ride-along, The Press-Enterprise reported.


"Thankfully nothing that is life-threatening at this time," Villanueva said.

All were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, with most being found to have only minor or moderate injuries. The Press-Enterprise reported that at least one occupant was initially in critical condition, however a doctor at Pomona Valley said during Saturday's press conference "that all are in good condition."

The exact cause of the crash is unknown at this time. Weather conditions were likely not the cause, as the area had good visibility with mild winds.

Villanueva explained that the rescue helicopter experienced some form of malfunction before going down, suffering a "hard landing and rollover" on the ground. The spot where it landed was near the San Gabriel Dam and Reservoir, and was only a few feet away from a 200-foot drop into the water.

The helicopter also avoided another major catastrophe upon crashing, Villanueva said. Fuel began to leak from the craft following the crash, but ultimately did not ignite.

The vehicle collision that the crew was responding to occurred at around 4:25 p.m. on Old San Gabriel Canyon Road and Highway 39, which blocked traffic along the highway. After the first helicopter went down, another arrived on the scene of the collision and transported victims with minor injuries to the hospital, according to California Highway Patrol logs viewed by The Press-Enterprise.

This most recent incident comes on the heels of another helicopter crash in the region last month. On February 19, Nicholas Vella of the Huntington Beach Police Department died when the craft he was traveling in went down in the water near Newport Beach. Another officer, who was piloting the craft at the time, was also left in critical condition.

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