One dies in helicopter crash

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

JACKSON (AP) — A pilot’s proficiency check went tragically wrong Tuesday, killing one Federal Aviation Administration employee and critically injuring another when their helicopter crashed into a Mississippi duplex, officials said.

No one on the ground was hurt.

‘‘One pilot was giving the other pilot what we call a proficiency check, and the accident occurred,’’ FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

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Jack Mazurak, a spokesman for the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said the injured person, Larry Wells, was in critical condition and the other person on board had died. Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart did not immediately return a call about the identity of the person killed.

Police said it appeared no one was in the duplex, in a residential neighborhood, when the helicopter hit it. A renter who lives there came home later in the afternoon but declined to talk to reporters.

The crumpled red helicopter sat nose-down near the wooden porch, and a piece of one of the rotor blades pierced the porch roof.

Bergen said the helicopter, a Robinson R-44, went down about 2:30 p.m. CDT about a half-mile east of Hawkins Field, a municipal airport.

Ardell Williams, 71, lives across the street and was standing outside talking to a postman when he saw the helicopter fall from the sky and clip a pine tree.

‘‘I said look, look, look, look, that helicopter fell on that house over there,’’ Williams said.

They walked over and found the helicopter jammed up against the back porch. He said when the emergency crew arrived EMTs put a blanket over one of the crash victims and gave the other oxygen.

Jackson Police Department spokesman Jeffrey Scott said the two-man crew was practicing aerial maneuvers when the helicopter crashed.