One of six people injured when a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter went down in the Angeles National Forest remained at a hospital as of Monday, March 21.
The patient was being held for observation, and was one of five deputies who were travelling with a doctor joining them on a ride-along aboard a Sheriff’s Department rescue helicopter Saturday, March 19, LASD officials said Monday afternoon. The other people aboard the aircraft also suffered injuries that were not considered life threatening, and released from treatment at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center over the weekend.
Highway 39 was closed leading up to the site where the helicopter went down as of 5 p.m. Monday evening, LASD Lt. Louis Serrrano said. Authorities were using a crane to get it loaded onto a truck and relocated for further inspection, a task they hoped to complete by sundown. Once that is done, the roadway will be reopened.
“We’re in the process of hoisting it up and getting it out of the area,” Serrano said.
The helicopter was responding to reports of a vehicle collision and attempting to descend onto a turnout near Highway 39 (San Gabriel Canyon Road) and East Fork Road in the mountains north of Azusa. The crew ran into either mechanical or environmental trouble, and experienced a “hard landing” and a “rollover,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters Saturday evening. He added that the helicopter stopped a few feet short of a ledge overlooking a 200-foot fall.
It was not immediately clear what caused the helicopter to go down. The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating, and it may be a year before the agency releases its findings to the public.
The department has two rescue helicopters similar to the one that rolled over on Saturday. Those were scheduled for a thorough inspection after the crash; sheriff’s officials were unable to specify if the aircraft were cleared for service as of Monday.
Villanueva said each of the department’s three rescue helicopters conducts hundreds of missions each year, and the loss of even one will create a challenge.