U.S.

Florida Man Killed As Helicopter Blade Strikes Pickup Truck

A man has died as a helicopter crash in Florida caused a rotor blade to strike the vehicle he was traveling in.

On Thursday at around 2:21 p.m., the engine of the helicopter failed, causing it to crash-land on 50th Street at Palm River Road, in Hillsborough Country, on the west coast of Florida, Click Orlando reported citing Florida Highway Patrol.

Two people were onboard the helicopter heading south to Sarasota at the time; pilot Bryan Messick, 39, and co-pilot Joshua Wells, 21, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told ABC Action News.

As the helicopter crashed to the ground, a rotor blade dislodged and pierced the windshield of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck which was heading north on 50th Street, approaching Palm River Road, ABC Action News reported.

Ryan Persaud, 35, was driving the truck while his 72-year-old father Deodat Gangapersaud was in the passenger seat. The blade struck Gangapersaud, killing him. Persaud sustained minor cuts, and was taken to Tampa General Hospital, according to ABC Action News.

There were no reports of other injuries, Click Orlando reported the Florida Highway Patrol as saying.

Surveillance footage from the crash site captured by Top Choice Automobile Sales shows the blue helicopter descending rapidly, then crash-landing and careering along the road near the dealership, before hitting a utility pole.

Alejandor Bou-Colon, who witnessed the incident, told ABC Action News: "You could start hearing the blades. I turn around and see the helicopter about like 20 feet above the air. It tries to crash-land in that patch of grass. But, then it kept on sliding and sliding until it hit that pole right about there and cut it in half. It was very scary. It was really close. It could’ve been us."

Bou-Colon told The Tampa Bay Times: "I didn’t see anybody get out but you can see the debris from the wood of the pole flying everywhere. You can also see the blades of the helicopter all turned."

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office told ABC Action News that the pilots were highly trained. Dan Boggs of the National Transportation Safety Board told the broadcaster it had launched an investigation into the incident. He said the aircraft was “a couple of months old.”

Boggs praised the pilot for doing a “great job” in dealing with catastrophic engine failure, and maneuvering the Robinson R-44 aircraft to avoid hitting a truck as it sped to the ground.

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