Copter Crashes; Flight With Victim Also Fails

United Press International

A helicopter attempting to fly in high winds near the Rialto Airport crashed Sunday, injuring one person. A sheriff's helicopter airlifting the victim to a hospital then was forced to make an emergency landing on the way, officials said.

No one was injured in the second mishap and the San Bernardino County sheriff's rescue helicopter was not damaged, said Sheriff's Lt. Mike Stodelle.

The injured passenger, whose name was not available, was taken the rest of the way to San Bernardino County Medical Center by ambulance, Stodelle said.

The crash occurred about 3 p.m. when the helicopter, owned by Western Helicopters, was pushed too far off the ground by high winds and was forced back down, crashing on a fence, said Rialto Police Sgt. Jim Arviso.

One of the two occupants, who were on a training mission, suffered minor injuries, Arviso said. The $300,000 helicopter was destroyed.

The sheriff's copter taking the victim to the medical center lost partial power about 4 p.m. over San Bernardino, Stodelle said. The pilot made a precautionary landing in the intersection at Baseline and Windsor Avenue, Stodelle said.

Nearby residents who watched the landing maneuvers of pilot Tom Hornsby applauded him when the craft touched down, Stodelle said.

The helicopter was towed to the Sheriff's Department for repair.

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