Two Pasadena police helicopters were involved in a mid-air collision over the weekend that left five officers and a civilian injured. The helicopters crashed at the police department’s Benedict Heliport in Altadena as one was taking off and the other attempting to land. Apparently the main rotor of one of the helicopters hit a rotor on the other causing the crash. Pasadena’s Police Chief has turned over all data, including police investigation records and video surveillance to the National Transportation Safety Board which will conduct their own investigation into the cause of the crash.
Both helicopters were severely damaged in the crash and it is extremely lucky that no one was killed. According to one news report the accident happened as one officer was standing on the side of one helicopter conversing with the pilot. The Pasadena Police Chief said this is the first catastrophic accident of this type in the department and he is concerned the wounded officers recover while federal investigators sift through the wreckage to find out what happened. All five officers and the civilian had only minor injuries and were released from the hospital the following day.
It is a rarity that an accident of such magnitude, where both aircraft received such serious damage but without causing casualties to the passengers or anyone on the ground. The helicopters were Bell OH-58 models and investigators are expected to interview both of the pilots in the next few days. One of the helicopters was flying over the Rose Bowl for the USC-UCLA game and the other was patrolling over Pasadena neighborhoods. The Pasadena Police Department operates four helicopters.
The NTSB investigation should uncover why both helicopters were on the heliport at the same time and whether pilot error or mechanical failure was a cause in the crash. Those injured in aviation accidents such as this, whether employed by the department or the civilian in this case could have cause for a personal injury claim to recover medical expenses. And as is always the case in any serious accident, certain injuries may not surface immediately following the crash. Those involved were no doubt told what symptoms to watch for before being released from the hospital after their overnight observations.
Source: NBC Los Angeles, “Federal Probe Launched into Pasadena Police Helicopter Crash,” Jason Kandel and Michelle Valles, Nov. 18, 2012
Our Los Angeles personal injury law firm helps victims of aviation accidents, including helicopter accidents similar to the one discussed in the above post.