Williamsburg helicopter crash: Hot spots prevent crews from accessing aircraft

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jul 08, 2018

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Virginia State Police said at least one person was killed after a helicopter crashed into the Bristol Commons Townhomes and sparked a fire in Williamsburg Sunday afternoon.

Virginia State Police said troopers responded to a 911 call about an aircraft crashing into a "residential structure" in the 1100 block of Settlement Drive just before 4:45 p.m.

Officials at the College of William & Mary said the crash happened near the Dillard Complex.

FAA officials identified the aircraft as a R44 helicopter and said that the pilot was the only person on board.

Sgt. Michelle Anaya with Virginia State Police said during a Sunday evening briefing that at least one person inside the building -- in addition to the pilot -- was killed.

The building, which contains 10 units, cannot be accessed by investigators until crews can knock down hot spots.

Officials said they are working with people who live at the townhomes to make sure everyone is accounted for.

“We cannot get into the building, because there is still fire inside the building," Anaya said. "Once the fire department makes the building secure, then the FAA and NTSB will go inside to try to find the aircraft."

Anaya said troopers worked with the FAA to come up with a timeline to determine which aircraft were in the area at the time.

"Unfortunately, everything takes a bit of time because we are working with separate agencies," Anaya added. "And it's a Sunday, so were having to call in people."

Officials said the FAA and NTSB responded to the crash scene.

Anaya said the expansive scene will likely take two or three days to process.

WTVR CBS 6 reporter Jake Burns said one survivor called the experience "surreal" and believes her dog perished in the fire.

A witness told Burns that he will never forgot the sound of the helicopter colliding with the side of this townhouse complex.

"One resident told me he spoke to a man who was 10 feet away from where the aircraft struck," Burns said. "That man was able to get to safety."

That witness suspected that authorities may have known the helicopter was in distress prior since he estimated crews arrived "30 seconds" after the crash. However, there has been no official word if that is the case.

Additionally, Burns said parts of the helicopter were strewn across the complex’s parking lot and driveway.

Burns called damage to the complex is “incredibly extensive.”

The Red Cross is assisting the victims.

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