SC agents get permission to replace crashed helicopter
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — State law enforcement agents in South Carolina are closer to getting $2 million to replace a helicopter destroyed in a crash last month.
A panel of lawmakers on Tuesday approved letting the State Law Enforcement Division buy a used helicopter similar to the two-passenger chopper that crashed June 26 while taking off for a drug mission in Summerville.
After the OK from the Joint Bond Review Committee, SLED will need the State Fiscal Accountability Authority to sign off on the new chopper. The agency said insurance should cover most of the cost.
SLED has two other two-passenger helicopters. Losing the third one has greatly hampered it mission to search for drugs, look for suspects and missing people and get specialized agents rapidly across South Carolina, the agency wrote in a letter to the committee.
The crashed helicopter is especially missed when one of the two remaining choppers must undergo routine maintenance, said SLED Chief Mark Keel, who served as a state police helicopter pilot when he rose through the ranks of the agency.
The pilot of the SLED helicopter suffered minor injuries in the crash. Keel said federal investigators have not determined what caused the mishap.
SELD said it was the first helicopter crash since the agency was founded in 1947.