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Helicopter Crashes Into Apartment Building

May 7, 1991

HOUSTON (AP) _ A helicopter crashed through a housing complex roof Tuesday, demolishing two apartments and injuring three people aboard the aircraft.

The chartered helicopter was flying low and apparently was trying to make an emergency landing in a field next to the publicly subsidized Wheatley Plaza apartment complex, witnesses said.

″I could hear the motor sputtering,″ said resident Leonard McMillan. ″I saw the pilot trying to get altitude. I saw the propellers stop and go through the ceiling.″

The helicopter, owned by Southern Bell Helicopters Inc. of Houston, didn’t crash through to the ground floor of the two apartments in the two-story, 16- unit complex, said police spokesman Sam Price.

″Luckily, it was supported by the walls between them,″ Price said.

″It sounded like a bomb,″ said neighbor Sheila Gardner. ″I’m past frightened. I’m not going back into that ... place.″

Pilot Donald McDavid, 57, was in stable condition at Hermann Hospital with head injuries, spokeswoman Inocencia Cortes said.

It took crews 30 minutes using a chainsaw to free McDavid from the wreckage because part of the helicopter was resting on his shoulder.

Co-pilot Dalton Knight, 37, was in stable condition at Ben Taub Hospital with possible spinal fractures, spokesman Roger Widmire said.

Their passenger, Duke Newton, 24, who had chartered the craft to shoot a videotape, was taken to Ben Taub with a possible broken nose, Widmire said.

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