NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) – A helicopter crashed into a Southern California home shortly after takeoff on Tuesday, killing three people and injuring two others, officials said.
The four-seat Robinson R44 went down at about 1:45 p.m. in a gated community in Newport Beach, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, authorities said.
The injured were taken to hospitals but there was no immediate word on their condition.
Fire Chief Chip Duncan confirmed the deaths and injuries but could not say how many of the dead were aboard the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration said four people were on the helicopter.
A neighbor who heard the crash told KCAL-TV that he saw the pilot lying injured but alive on the grass and three other people inside the wreckage.
“We tried to pry them out but we didn’t want to touch them,” said the neighbor, who was not identified by the television station. “We didn’t want to take a chance of hurting anybody.”
“The three people were all crunched in there together,” he said. “One I could see moving an arm.”
Marian Michaels, who lives behind the house that was struck by the helicopter, said her house shook when the crash happened.
“There was no fire,” she said. “It looked like they were trying to land in the street but clipped the roof across the street and didn’t make it.”
The house that was hit was for sale and she saw the owners talking to firefighters, Michaels said.
The aircraft had taken off from John Wayne Airport, said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman. The airport is about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the crash site. There was no fire.
Messages seeking comment from Revolution Aviation, which is based at the airport and operated the helicopter, were not immediately returned.
The crash took place two days after a small plane heading toward the airport made a nighttime emergency landing on a nearby freeway. The pilot and passenger weren’t hurt.
The pilot, Israel Slod, said the engine of the Beech G33 suddenly died as the plane was en route from San Diego to the airport.
The aircraft landed on State Route 55 in Costa Mesa, a few miles north of Newport Beach