Crash investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration were en route this morning to the scene of a Tuesday crash that brought down a brush clearing helicopter and seriously injured its highly experienced pilot.
Leo Boucher, 50, of Manchester, N.H., flying for Rotor Blade LLC, was transported from the crash site off Township Road 188 south of Township Road 190 by Macochee Joint Ambulance District to Mary Rutan Hospital. He was later taken from there by MedFlight to Grant Medical Center in Columbus.
ABOVE and BELOW: Emergency personnel tend to a helicopter crash scene Tuesday afternoon along Township Road 188 near Liberty Hills Golf Club. (EXAMINER PHOTO | T.J. HUBBARD)
Mr. Boucher was in the hospital’s intensive care unit, a hospital spokesperson reported today.
He was in the second day of a project to clear trees from along the 16.1-mile route of the Simon Kenton Bicycle Path project between Urbana and Bellefontaine when the helicopter suddenly pitched into the trees around 4:45 p.m. The aircraft was about 100 feet off the ground prior to the crash.
The South Carolina-based company is under contract with LeVan’s Excavating Co. to remove trees and vegetation as part of the $800,000 bicycle path project.
The helicopter, a Hughes 500, was connected to a 10-bladed saw via an 80-foot boom and was trimming trees at the time.
The helicopter, boom and saw remained at the crash site overnight and will not be removed until FAA investigators are finished with the scene.
Contractor Jeremy LeVan said he doesn’t know why the helicopter crashed, but it was not caused by a deer stand as reported by other news agencies.
“It (the saw) would’ve blown right through a deer stand,” he said.
As for Mr. Boucher’s experience, Mr. LeVan said, “He has thousands and thousands of hours flying.”
(EXAMINER PHOTO | NATE SMITH)
Last year, the pilot flew 1,800 hours for Rotor Blade.
Rotor Blade uses either Hughes 500 or the later version MD 500 helicopters. The aircraft design has been around since the Vietnam War and variations remain in production.
West Liberty Fire Department, Bellefontaine Fire and EMS and troopers of the Ohio State Highway Patrol also responded to the scene.
CLICK ON AN IMAGE TO VIEW SLIDE SHOW