Pilot Never Saw Second Helicopter Before Crash
Dec. 02, 1985
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The pilot of one of two commuter helicopters manuevering to land at a wharfside helipad says he never saw the other chopper before they collided in flight, killing one person and injuring 10 others, according to a federal official.
The two Bell 206L Jet Ranger helicopters arriving from Santa Catalina Island crashed Saturday while approaching the Catalina Air and Sea Terminal in San Pedro.
Brian Adams, pilot of a Helitrans helicopter, told investigators he never saw the Island Express craft, said Jeff Rich of the National Transportation Safety Board, which joined the Federal Aviation Administration in the crash investigation.
Helitrans and Island Express ferry passengers between the mainland and the resort island 26 miles offshore.
Just as he completed a right-hand turn to land, Adams told investigators, he heard a loud noise, was jolted by severe vibrations and crash-landed on the helipad. The Island Express helicopter crashed into the water.
''We were 35 to 40 feet in the air when something hit us,'' said Russell Clendenon, 34, of Pitman, N.J., who was sitting next to Adams. ''A big chunk of metal came through the floor and hit my foot.
''I knew we were going to crash. I knew someone was hurt because I was splattered with blood,'' said Clendenon, who was treated at a hospital and released.
Clendenon's friend Hossein Habibi, a 28-year-old Iranian immigrant who worked as a manager at a McDonald's restaurant, was torn out of the helicopter by the collision and killed by the spinning rotor blade, police said.
His wife of three months, Stacy, 22, was treated for minor injuries and released.
''There were sirens screaming everywhere and people were running into the water,'' said Margaret Shea, who was on the floating Princess Louise Restaurant nearby.
''You kept seeing them pulling bodies out of the water. And they kept screaming about a baby that they said was somewhere in the water,'' she said.
The baby, 7-month-old Ashley Puma, was one of four people hospitalized after the crash. All were listed in stable condition Sunday.