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  • Writer's pictureWGON

Five Deputies, Doctor Survive Helicopter Crash in National Forest Near L.A.

Six people aboard a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) rescue helicopter miraculously survived when the aircraft crashed Saturday afternoon, said L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva per the L.A. Times.

The Super Puma helicopter was carrying five deputies with the LASD and a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) doctor when it crashed at 4:52 p.m. on the side of the San Gabriel Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest, the Los Angeles Times reported. The chopper was responding to a call to transport an individual injured in a roll-over accident.

Per KCBS, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said:

The helicopter suffered a malfunction of some sort — we don’t know if it was by mechanical, environmental, what they call a ‘brown out,’ wind change — but as they were trying to descend on a little turnout around mile marker 22, they suffered a hard landing and a rollover.

The crash victims suffered varying degrees of injuries, with some sustaining fractures and broken ribs, the Times noted. All passengers were conveyed to Pomona Valley Medical Center. Villanueva noted the UCLA doctor was partaking in a ride-along.

“They are in stable condition, some more banged up than others, but thankful to be alive,” Villanueva said.

He said the chopper landed feet away from a steep drop-off into a dam.

“The aircraft landed just a few feet from a 200-foot drop down to Morris Dam below,” Villanueva noted. “The fact it did not rollover and go all the way down or that there was no fire is nothing short of a miracle.”

L.A. County Fire initially called the helicopter to the scene to assist with rescuing an individual who was injured in a rollover crash, the Times said. It departed from Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, and reportedly, nothing seemed awry during take-off. The outlet noted that some low-hanging clouds were present in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the crash, KCBS noted.

During a press conference, which was tweeted out by the LASD early Saturday morning, Villanueva said the department has two other helicopters like the one involved in the wreck.

“Until we know exactly what happened, we’re going to be on stand-by with those two,” he told reporters.

He added that the department is short on personnel in the aftermath of Saturday’s crash, which will make rescue operations more challenging, noting the crew conducts between “500-700 rescues a year.”

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