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Helicopter pilot injured in emergency landing off Long Island

Posted at 2:17 PM, Oct 22, 2020

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — A helicopter crashed offshore near Jones Inlet Wednesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Officials said the pilot, a 64-year-old man, appeared to be attempting a controlled descent at Meadow Island at around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. The chopper landed in an area with about three feet of water.

Rescue crews from the Coast Guard and several other local agencies responded. The pilot was rescued from the aircraft and taken to a local hospital with minor injuries, including a facial laceration and back and rib pain. He was the only one on board.

There was also some damage to the helicopter.

Chief Petty Officer David Turner of the U.S. Coast Guard said he did not know the cause of the crash, nor did he know details of the flight plan.

There was very thick fog in the area Wednesday, and while Turner did not know if it was a contributing factor to the landing, he said it's difficult to operate in those conditions.

Visibility was only a half-mile in the area at the time of the incident with misty conditions in the area.

"I kept on hearing this helicopter, circling and circling, and after a couple of circles, it didn't sound right to me," said Damian Walsh the man who helped rescue the pilot and took video of the immediate aftermath.

Walsh was out on his boat when he says a thick fog quickly rolled in around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

"It turned pretty quickly probably had about 20 yards of visibility," he said.

He and another boater rushed to the scene after hearing a loud splash.

One coast guard officer told Walsh that the pilot fell 1,000 feet in three seconds.

The helicopter fell into shallow water.

"He was lucky; if he fell 50 yards over, he wouldn't have survived," Walsh said. "I got him on the boat; I called his wife, let her know he was alight."

Walsh said he and a couple of other Good Samaritans got him over to rescuers.

"They wouldn't have found him in that fog. I was in the right place at the right time," he said.

The investigation into the landing is ongoing.

This story was originally published by Corey Crockett and Cristian Benavides on WPIX in New York City.