A helicopter pilot was killed on the San Diego waterfront Wednesday when his aircraft crashed on takeoff because one of its pontoons was still lashed to the deck of a tuna seiner, authorities said.
"The 'copter got about five feet off the ground and, like a rubber band, it snapped right back down," said Larry O'Brien, a dock employee.
The pilot, whose identity was withheld pending notification of relatives, was declared dead at the scene at the 10th Street Terminal, near downtown San Diego. No other injuries were reported.
A dozen firefighters and a fire boat helped put out a small fuel blaze that resulted when the helicopter hit the starboard side of the ship.
The San Diego Harbor Police were investigating the incident.
The accident occurred shortly after 4 p.m., authorities said. Much of the helicopter was reduced to a twisted wad of metal, its tail protruding from the side of the ship.
The boat, the Chac Mool, is registered to an Ensenada owner, said Battalion Chief Bill Flohr of the San Diego Fire Department.