A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department helicopter crashed in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa Saturday injuring five deputies and an additional occupant.
A total of six people were aboard, including the sheriff’s department crew and a doctor from UCLA on a ride-along. All were taken to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and all are expected to survive, officials tell ABC7. One person suffered critical injuries, two suffered moderate injuries, and the others suffered minor injuries, but all are currently in stable condition, officials said. Three remained in the hospital as of Sunday.
"They're pretty banged up, some of them, and I'll leave it at there's some fractures, some broken ribs, and some things of that nature," L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva says. "But thankfully nothing that is life-threatening at this time, and they're in good hands here."
Villanueva said the helicopter was assisting the fire department with transporting a patient from a vehicle rollover when “the helicopter suffered some malfunction of some sort,” KTLA reports. The auto accident patient was not yet on the helicopter when it crashed.
“We don’t know if it was mechanical, environmental, what they call a brownout, a wind change, but as they were trying to descend … they suffered a hard landing and a rollover,” Villanueva says.
The sheriff says the aircraft, known as Air 5, was a Super Puma heavy-lift helicopter, far larger than those seen on patrol on a regular basis.
"Considering where this occurred...the aircraft landed just a few feet from a 200-foot drop...so the fact that it did not roll over, go all the way down, or that there was no fire, is nothing short of a miracle," says Villanueva.