UPDATE: Pilot in ICU in guarded condition after fiery crash

April 25, 2018 01:39 PM

A man is recovering after his small helicopter crashed in Orleans County Tuesday.

Emergency responders tell News10NBC the pilot, 64-year-old Alan Heard of Waterport, could have died if it wasn't for a good Samaritan. 


Investigators say the Mosquito XE model helicopter ran into engine trouble and went down in flames Tuesday afternoon near the Gaines Valley Aviation Airport in Gaines. News10NBC is told it was a helicopter built from a kit. 

Deputies say Mark Bennett, also of Waterport, was driving by and saw the helicopter preparing to take off so he stopped to watch. After lifting off to an altitude of approximately 100 to 200 feet, the helicopter began experiencing mechanical problems.

Popping and grinding sounds were heard by witnesses, deputies say, as the helicopter traveled west over Gaines-Waterport Road. At this point, the aircraft was on fire and Heard performed a hard landing on the skids in a field.

Bennett climbed over an electric fence and ran to the crash site. He helped Heard get out of the aircraft and away from the wreckage. Deputies say Heard's clothes were on fire and Bennett was able to roll Heard and cut his shirt off with a knife to extinguish the flames. 

"The Lord had me come by just at that time," Bennett said. "To God be the glory. All I did was what anyone else would've done, I guess."

Heard was taken to Strong Hospital with burns and a back injury. As of Wednesday afternoon, Heard is in the ICU in guarded condition.

The Albion Fire Department and Carlton Fire Company also assisted at the scene. F.A.A. investigators secured parts of the aircraft along with a Go-Pro camera for analysis as they work to determine the cause of the crash.


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