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Arizona Sheriff's Helicopter Crashes Near Tucson

January 31, 2011  | 

A Pima County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Department helicopter crashed at about 11:30 a.m. this morning northwest of Tucson while scouting a location to help identify locations for future radio towers to facilitate communications in the area, the agency announced.

Loren Leonberger, a civilian pilot, died at the scene, and three others were injured. Names will be released pending family notification.

Leonberger had more than 40 years experience flying helicopters. In February 1969, he entered the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot from June 1970 to June 1971, when he achieved the rank of warrant officer. Leonberger served as a pilot in the U.S. Army National Guard from January 1972 to November 1991.

In July 1978, he became an officer and a pilot with the Arizona Department of Public Safety where he served for 20 years. In December 1998, he retired from the DPS Air Rescue Unit. Leonberger became a pilot with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in 1998.

He joined the Pima County Sheriff's Department in November 2008. That same year, the agency purchased the MD530FF helicopter he was flying when he crashed, according to

Leonberger leaves behind a wife and 12 siblings.

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