Crews Remove Chopper Wreckage, Investigation Begins
INDIANA, Pa. (KDKA) — Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating after a helicopter crashed to the ground late Saturday night while filming for a reality show near a college campus in Indiana County.
Bart Sobolewski was the only passenger who walked away after the chopper came down near Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“I’m feeling real lucky, real lucky,” said Sobolewski. “It was like something out of a movie, that’s all I can tell you.”
Three others, including the pilot, are being treated for more serious injuries at local hospitals.
Students who live near South 7th Street and Klondyke Avenue say the helicopter was flying low and started spinning just before it came down.
“Then, like, you heard the engine go out. We all just got off the deck and ran,” said Tom Higgins, an IUP student. “We didn’t know where it was going down.”
“We just started seeing it spin and spin, and it just came down,” said Anthony Rametta, another student. “Everybody came over; it was unbelievable.”
The crew on board the chopper came to IUP to film a reality television show called “Campus PD,” which follows campus police officers around to document night-life activities.
“At the time, we were getting aerial shots; we were getting aerial shots of the city, trying to make the city look good,” said Sobolewski.
The helicopter was reportedly hovering over an outside party involving dozens of students near the crash scene.
It’s believed that as a result of mechanical problems, the pilot tried to land on a roof, but the blades hit a neighboring roof, and the chopper then crashed about 25 feet below.
“They were lucky that when this all happened… somebody didn’t end up getting killed,” said Don Palmer, of Indiana Borough Emergency Management.
Firefighters laid down a bed of foam to suppress vapors and used a crane to remove the helicopter.
The wreckage was taken to a hanger at the Indiana County Airport. On Monday, the FAA and NTSB will begin an investigation into the incident.