Two people were killed on Friday after a helicopter crashed mid-air and burst into flames before plunging to earth near Dallas. The crash took place in broad daylight as a chilling video footage shows the helicopter nosediving in the 2200 block of State Highway 66 in Rowlett, Texas killing the pilot and another person on board.
The video of the crash has since gone viral. However, no one on the ground was injured. The helicopter went down around 11:30 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. An investigation has been launched into the incident and it is believed that there was some major faulty with the chopper.
The tragic crash was witnessed by several people as the chopper came down in a busy area during the lunch hour rush. Video shared on social media appears to show the helicopter spinning out of control and falling with part of its tail boom and other pieces of the aircraft separated from the rest of the cabin.
The helicopter's tail rotor can be seen tumbling to earth apart from the body. Police said that the two victims were adults but were not related to each other. Their identities have not been revealed until their relatives have been notified but according to reports, one was the pilot.
"Witnesses said that the helicopter was crashing to the ground, that the rear rotor had separated from the helicopter and that the helicopter was dropping and spinning," said Rowlett Police spokesperson Cruz Hernandez.
The tail piece of the helicopter landed on a nearby storage facility, while the body landed in an empty field surrounded by many companies.
According to KDFW-TV, the helicopter was owned by Sky Helicopters in Garland and was on a training mission when it crashed. The private corporation provides helicopter tours of Dallas, flight instruction, and aerial news coverage for a number of local television stations.
Witnesses said that they realized that something was wrong with the helicopter but ran for their lives as they didn't know where the helicopter was going to fall, as it continued its dive. "We seen the helicopter going real slow and my wife says man that doesn't look right," witness Scott Ussery said. "It started swinging a little bit and going down lower and it started going out of control."
The helicopter caught fire after hitting the ground, trapping the pilot and a passenger inside, according to authorities. The tail rotor collided with a neighboring structure. Workers from a neighboring business heard the crash and attempted to assist.
"We saw smoke and we tried to help," witness Andrew Reyna said. "We tried to grab some fire extinguishers but it was too dangerous. We couldn't get too close because of heat and the blaze."
Firefighters at the scene erected an improvised tarp around the rubble to protect the plane's remains from the road. According to FAA data, the helicopter was a 2016 Robinson R-44 Rotorcraft, which sells for around $475,000.
According to a 2018 Los Angeles Times study, the R-44 is the world's best-selling civilian helicopter, although it has a lengthy history of tragic crashes. Robinson Helicopters, a privately held firm, refuted such conclusions.
On Friday afternoon, the FAA interviewed witnesses, and NTSB investigators are expected to arrive early Saturday morning to assess the damage.