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UPDATED: Helicopter crash kills one, injures one

Posted: December 17, 2008 11:42 a.m.
Updated: December 17, 2008 7:00 p.m.

Sheriff deputies walk around a helicopter that killed a man Wednesday morning on top a hill near Lombardi Ranch. The man, who was not on board the helicopter, was killed after the helicopter, attempting to take off, was crushed on its side by a gust of wind.

A mechanic was killed in Saugus on Wednesday when a privately owned helicopter caught in a gust of wind crashed into a hilltop near Bouquet Canyon Road, officials said.

At about 9:30 a.m., the helicopter took off from a hill behind Lombardi Ranch until the wind forced it to fall on its side, said Lt. Mike Dunkle of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.

The helicopter's rotary blade hit the ground and killed the mechanic, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The victim's identity was not available.

The pilot suffered minor injuries.

The crash broke the helicopter into pieces, Dunkle said.

The contracted construction crew was on the hill installing power lines as part of Southern California Edison's Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, said Edison spokesman Gil Alexander.

The helicopter was owned by Swanson Group Aviation LLC of Grants Pass, Ore.

"We have no comment at this time," said a woman who answered the phone at company headquarters.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation, Gregor said.

The agencies will issue a final probable cause report, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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