Florida Man Killed by Helicopter Blade in Freak Accident at Airport

A man has died in Florida, having been struck by a helicopter blade. Hernando County Sheriff's deputies were called to Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, western Florida, at around 3:35 p.m. on Thursday, following reports that a helicopter struck a man in the head, police said in a statement.

The sheriff's office identified the victim as 62-year-old Salvatore Disi. He died instantly, police said.

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When officers arrived at the scene, they found a body beside a hanger on Flight Path Drive, in the city of Brooksville, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said according to ABC Action News. Nienhuis said at a news conference that there was no sign of foul play.

In a call to police, an individual on the scene explained he and the victim were trying to jump start a helicopter using a power cart prior to the accident. The aircraft “suddenly jerked up and then came down,” and the rotor blades hit the man on the head.

Denise M. Moloney, a spokesperson for Hernando County Sheriff, told TribLive that fire and rescue were initially called to attend the incident “but we canceled them because it was a very obvious death.”

Nienhuis said, according to NBC-affiliate WFLA, "Obviously a death that is a little bit unusual and we want to make sure we have all the answers. It's tragic that those individuals are not going to be able to give their loved one a hug again."

Following a request from the airport, the Medical Examiner's Office in Leesburg collected the body from the scene. Officials have launched an investigation into the incident.

The helicopter belonged to Dr. Alfred Bonati, an orthopedic surgeon at the Bonati Spine Institute in Hudson, Florida. The surgeon was at the scene when the accident unfolded, WFLA reported.

According to U.S. News and World Report, Bonati has been a medical practitioner for two decades since graduating from Universidad de Cadiz Faculty of Medicine.

Citing Federal Aviation Administration records, the Tampa Bay Times reported the aircraft is believed to be a 1993 Bell 230 twin-engine light helicopter.

Nienhuis told ABC Action News that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been contacted.

The incident occurred away from the facility's runways and did not impact air traffic, Nienhuis said according to the Tampa Bay Times.