Three Hospitalized After Sheriff's Helicopter Crash Near San Gabriel Dam

Looking up at the main rotor of a Bell 407 GXI helicopter on a sunny day

Photo: Getty Images

Three people remained in a hospital today from a sheriff's helicopter crash near the San Gabriel Dam in the Angeles National Forest near Azusa that injured six people.

Five of those victims were taken to a hospital, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher, but two of the five were not hospitalized, according to a spokeswoman at the Sheriff's Information Bureau. The six people aboard the aircraft were believed to be five deputies and a UCLA doctor on a ride-long. The crash occurred at 4:50 p.m. Saturday near Highway 39's Mile Marker 21.7 in the San Gabriel Dam area, said Deputy Alejandra Parra of the Sheriff's Information Bureau. The helicopter was en route to a call for an air evacuation of victims from a nearby vehicle collision when it crashed, Parra said.

During a news conference late Saturday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said all of the injured were expected to recover, noting that most suffered ``fractures and broken ribs, things of that nature. Thankfully nothing that is life-threatening at this time.'' Villanueva told reporters it was ``nothing short of a miracle'' that all six survived. The victims had to be extricated from the wreckage. The three people still hospitalized were at Pomona Valley Hospital.

  ``The NTSB (National Transport ion Safety Board) will be investigating the crash with the FAA as a party, as they are in every NTSB aviation investigation,'' said Eric Weiss, chief of media relations for the NTSB.  Villanueva said it was unclear what caused the helicopter to crash.  ``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,'' he said. ``but as they were trying to descend on a little turnout around mile marker 22, they suffered a hard landing and a rollover.''

  The aircraft is one of three belonging to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Special Enforcement Bureau. In addition to the doctor, those on board included two pilots and three medics. ``The Department would like to thank our community for the outpouring of support for our Deputies during this unfortunate incident,'' sheriff's officials tweeted late Saturday. ``We appreciate your thoughts and prayers.''

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