EUSTIS, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A helicopter crashed in Lake County on Friday, injuring both men inside. The county’s 911 dispatchers received a call at 10:40 a.m. reporting the crash at a ranch on Curle Road in Eustis. Witnesses tell FOX 35 that both men inside the helicopter were semi-conscious and that emergency crews had to cut the aircraft to get the men out. Shannon Davison was watching the helicopter as she was riding her horse. “We kind of heard it sputter and then a big backfire and it cut out,” said Davison.
Jerry Byrd is a long-time friend of one of the men in the helicopter. He says his friend called him as they took off from the Eustis airstrip, letting him know that he and his buddy would be flying over Byrd’s home. Byrd says he and his wife were outside watching the helicopter and taking video when they suddenly realized there was a problem. “Everything was fine. Helicopter started heading this way to the Northwest and then whenit did all of a sudden, the helicopter stared spinning like a top so I could tell something was wrong. I heard the bang,” said Byrd. Byrd was taking video of as his friend flew over, and as he crashed. An investigator with the Federal Aviation Authority is reviewing the video.
The identities of the men in the helicopter have not yet been released. Both men were airlifted to area hospitals. Byrd tells us his friend suffered a broken ankle, and had undergone surgery on Friday afternoon. He says his friend also injured his shoulder and lower arm. The exact condition of the other man is not known, but FOX 35 has been told his injuries are not life-threatening.
The wreckage was removed late Friday afternoon and taken to a hanger. FOX 35 was told the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will be out to take another look at it before determining the what caused the helicopter to crash.