NOXEN, Pa. (AP) – A helicopter crash in a rugged, wooded area of northeastern Pennsylvania claimed the lives of five people, including one child, officials said Sunday.
The crash happened Saturday night after the pilot told air traffic controllers he was losing altitude, according to the county coroner.
Wyoming County coroner Thomas Kukuchka said the pilot contacted a nearby tower around 10:30 p.m. saying he would attempt to return to another airfield nearby.
“That’s when he went off radar,” Kukuchka said.
Although the names of those on board have not been released, Kukuchka said three men, a woman and a child were on board.
“It appears to be a father and son, a father and daughter and the pilot,” he said.
Kukuchka did not release the ages of the victims. He said his office was trying to reach family members of the deceased in Leesburg, Va., Ellicot City, Md. and Kitnersville, Pa.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the helicopter took off from Greater Binghamton Airport in New York but officials there said it had actually originated at a smaller airfield nearby, Tri Cities Airport in Endicott. A phone message left at Tri Cities Airport was not immediately returned Sunday night.
State police and FAA personnel were still on the scene Sunday evening, according to Trooper Adam Reed, a state police spokesman. Additional details will be released as the investigation progresses, he said.
Although it was not clear if weather played a role in the crash, Kukuchka said there were severe thunderstorms in the area Saturday night. The coroner and police said rough weather contributed to the difficulty of the search; the wreckage was located shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday.
The FAA said the helicopter was bound for Jake Arner Memorial Airport in Lehighton.
The National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation, the FAA said.
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