Local

Two injured in Madera County helicopter crash

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A helicopter crashed into some trees near Road 601 near Songbird Lane in Ahwahnee.

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The man piloting the helicopter was 71-year-old Lee Haley of Ahwahnee. His passenger was Kenny Bartholomew.

The shattered shell of a 1960 Bell helicopter is still tangled in the same brush where it crashed Tuesday morning. The chopper is wrecked, but neighbors say it went down in a fortunate location.

"It was suspended up in the brush and that was probably a good thing because it didn't really go crunch," said neighbor Raymond Blakeslee.

Blakeslee and Gary Joslin live down the road from the crash site. They say their 71-year-old neighbor, Lee Haley, takes frequent trips in the helicopter.

But when he came in for a landing this time, the chopper didn't sound right. Then, they heard a crash.

"It wasn't really a boom," Joslin said. "It was more the noise you get from a big backfire or engine problem."

Blakeslee rushed to his neighbor's property and saw emergency crews cut Haley out of the helicopter. He says the passenger, Kenny Bartholomew, was an inspector checking recent changes to the aircraft.

By the time Blakeslee arrived, he says the inspector was walking around, but neither man looked good.

"Lee has a little bit of blood on him and apparently the guy who certified the helicopter has some broken ribs -- some busted ribs," he said, "but [they were in] pretty good shape for a helicopter crash."

Both the Pilot and his passenger are expected to recover from their injuries.

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Tags:
ahwahnee, madera county, plane crash, local, corin hoggard
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