MONROE, N.C. (AP) _ Five people died early today when a civilian helicopter crashed into a highway. The chopper was so badly damaged that investigators were having trouble determining its identification number and the origin of the flight.

Five bodies that all appeared to have come from the helicopter were found on U.S. 74 after the 12:40 a.m. EDT crash, Union County sheriff's dispatcher Kyle Hill said.

The crash, 30 miles east of Charlotte, closed the highway, which is heavily used by vacationers traveling between Charlotte and beaches in North and South Carolina.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were at the scene.