In the video obtained by our sister station WPVI, the camera was pointed directly at Drexel Hill United Methodist Church in Drexel Hill.
The helicopter is seen falling from the sky, and a loud crash can be heard as it hits the church grounds.
A pilot, two other crew members and an infant were on board at the time. The two crew members and the baby escaped without serious injuries, but the NTSB said on Wednesday the pilot remained hospitalized with serious injuries.
“I had a very brief meeting with the pilot today,” NTSB spokesman Brian Rayner said at a press conference. “His condition prevents him from speaking to us at any time in the immediate future.”
“His prognosis is good but he is very uncomfortable,” continued Rayner.
Although no official cause has been determined, Rayner said in an earlier briefing that the evidence points to an accident.
The WPVI helicopter was on the scene Wednesday evening as crews worked to remove the wreckage from the crash scene.
Federal Aviation Administration and NTSB investigators say it is now a data collection mission to determine what went wrong.
“There are electronic components on board that we can download locally, there are components that we will need to remove and ship to other locations here in the United States, and there are potentially components that we need to ship in. Europe, ”Rayner said.
The helicopter was on its way from WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital in Chambersburg, Pa., To Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia when the incident occurred.
The three crew members were rushed to Lankenau medical center and the two-month-old infant was taken to CHOP.
“It’s a miracle. It’s an absolute miracle,” said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy M. Bernhardt.
No injuries were reported on the ground.
A witness, Joshua James, said he was driving nearby with his wife and young son when he saw the tail of the helicopter swinging back and forth as it glided to a stop . He put his car in reverse.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that he didn’t touch any of the wires or whatever – that he didn’t touch us,” James told The Associated Press.
WPVI spoke to residents of the neighborhood who said the helicopter was several meters from their home before it crashed.
“The noise was so loud I thought it was a bomb. It was crazy, not a sound I have ever heard before,” said Lisa Smith.
The neighbors then flooded the streets.
“I ran down the street, there were flames and people coming out of the top of the helicopter,” said Denise Palmarino, who has lived in Drexel Hill for 20 years.
Everyone praised the pilot, who was in a very difficult situation. There are many houses, a busy road, schools and businesses around the scene of the accident.
“I can’t wait to meet this gentleman and shake his hand for bringing this (helicopter) down like he did,” Bernhardt said.
Emma Gray, a high school student from Upper Darby High School, was traveling in a Lyft vehicle when she heard the crash nearby.
“We heard that big boom. All of a sudden there was a pile of burning glass and debris on the road. Then there was a helicopter and part of it was on fire,” recalls- she.
Gray said she and her Lyft driver came out to help.
“These guys started to come out and they were like, ‘Someone is coming to help us, there’s somebody trapped below.’ They’d say “Here, take this” to my Lyft driver, and it was a baby, “Gray recalls.
Gray said she did her best to calm the pilot down.
“I was able to kneel down next to him and say, ‘Hey man, I called 911, help is on the way,’ Gray said.
A statement from WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital on Tuesday said “… earlier today a LifeNet medical helicopter based in Hagerstown, Md.. This flight then crashed on its way to Philadelphia. Our thoughts are with family and crew on board and we are grateful that early reports indicate the patient and crew survived and the patient was transported to the planned hospital by ground transportation. “
A fire official said the helicopter had about an hour of fuel remaining at the time of the crash, and crews took action to prevent fuel leaks from contaminating groundwater.
A spokesperson for Air Methods, the helicopter’s owning air emergency medical transport service, said it was part of the LifeNet program based in Hagerstown, Maryland. Federal agencies were investigating.
“Our team will fully cooperate in their efforts to assess the cause of this unfortunate accident,” said Air Methods spokesperson Doug Flanders.
The cause of this accident is still under investigation.
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