ANDALUSIA, Ala. – A medical helicopter crashed on the edge of a field in Andalusia on Friday afternoon, snapping power lines and leaving three people injured, according to city officials.
Ambulances took two people from the scene at the edge of Packer Field while a third person was airlifted to a hospital, officials said. Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman told WSFA that a pilot and two medics were on board the helicopter during the crash. The pilot suffered serious injuries while the medics appeared to have less severe injuries, the news station reported.
Elba police told WDHN that the helicopter was from Evergreen. It was headed for Andalusia Health before the crash, according to the news station.
It was not immediately clear what caused the incident. Officials told WDHN that the pilot began to feel ill and tried to land the helicopter when it crashed. Turman told WSFA that the crash happened after the helicopter began experiencing unspecified difficulties.
It happened as the Friends of Army Aviation was nearby giving people rides on UH-1H “Huey” helicopters in support of The Vietnam Traveling Wall. Billy Doaner told the Andalusia Star-News that he was going through safety training in anticipation of taking one of the rides when “a transformer blew about 50 yards over my left shoulder.”
“I thought to myself, ‘That was big explosion,’” he said, according to the newspaper. “I looked over to my right and, because the prescription in my glasses isn’t the greatest, it took me about five seconds to register an upside-down helicopter. I bolted and ran. When I got there, I saw the pilot hanging upside-down.”
He told the Star-News that bystanders tried to help but they were quickly replaced by first responders.
City officials said five power lines were broken when the helicopter crashed. Crews were working Friday afternoon to fix the damage.