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A rescue helicopter that was experiencing mechanical trouble caught fire and crashed into an apartment building in Pompano Beach, Fla., on Monday morning, killing two people and injuring four others, the authorities said.
The Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue helicopter was en route to provide medical assistance to a mother and daughter who had been a car crash in North Lauderdale when it started experiencing “mechanical issues” around 8:43 a.m. that led to a fire on board, Sheriff Gregory Tony of Broward County said at a news conference on Monday.
The three people aboard tried to extinguish the fire, he said, but encountered “additional mechanical issues” that sent the helicopter crashing into an apartment building southwest of the Pompano Beach airport.
Capt. Terryson Jackson, 50, of Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, who was on board the helicopter, died in the crash, the authorities said. A woman who lived in the building was also killed. Her name was not immediately released.
Four other people were injured, including the pilot and a paramedic who was aboard the helicopter. Both managed to crawl from the wreckage to safety and were taken to Broward Health North hospital, where they were recovering from non-life threatening injuries, Sheriff Tony said. The two civilians injured in the crash were taken to the same hospital, and were listed in “fair condition,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
“Terryson was a rock star,” Sheriff Tony said at the news conference. “He was one of the best of us; one of the brightest. He bled this profession inside and out, all day long.” Even as the helicopter was failing, he added, Captain Jackson, a 19-year veteran of the department, and the others aboard, had the foresight to notify the local Fire Department that they would not make it to North Lauderdale to assist the mother and daughter.
“We are the only air force in this county,” the sheriff told reporters, stressing the need for funding. “We have to have the necessary tools and equipment to be successful.”
A video posted on social media appeared to show the helicopter’s tail snapping from its fuselage, sending the aircraft into a rapid tailspin as it descended on fire. The building it crashed into caught fire, Sheriff Tony said at the news conference, adding that his office was still “processing the scene.”
Earlier this month, three people were killed when a helicopter deployed to fight a wildfire in Southern California collided with another helicopter and crashed. Before Monday’s crash, there had been seven fatal aircraft incidents in the United States this month, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.