Authorities and a witness report that a medical helicopter pilot miraculously avoided a web of electrical wires and buildings as the chopper flipped, struck the roadway, and slid through bushes outside a church before coming to a stop in a suburban Philadelphia neighborhood Tuesday, Jan. 11.
As Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy M. Bernhardt said during a news conference that no one on board suffered a life-threatening injury. He added that he was excited to shake the pilot’s hand for landing the helicopter in that manner.
Drexel Hill United Methodist Church is located in Upper Darby, and rescue teams arrived at 1 p.m. to rescue the pilot, two crew members, and an infant from the debris.
Bernhardt said the toddler was brought to a hospital as officials tried to contact the child’s relatives out of state.
A stop sign on the corner seemed to be sliced in half by the helicopter as it crashed. The chopper was lying on its side just outside the chapel, broken into two parts; it had a medical logo on it.
An absolute miracle in Drexel Hill today. A helicopter crash, four passengers. None of them have life-threatening injuries. More info to come.— Rep. Mike Zabel (@RepZabel) January 11, 2022
Please continue to avoid Burmont Road between State and Huey. pic.twitter.com/oxhkSsf2Cp
Bernhardt exclaimed, “It’s a miracle, it’s an absolute miracle, here what you see behind me,”
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.
Witnesses said that the helicopter skidded to a halt when it impacted the ground.
Jerrell Saunders, 28, claimed he observed the helicopter “just floating, like real low, like extremely low, like it could land on the building that I work at,” as he walked from his job in maintenance at a nearby apartment building.
A witness claimed to have observed the chopper skid across the road before coming to rest.
At this point, smoke began to billow out of the crash and people were hopping out of the chopper.
Jerrell Saunders remarked that this is a story he will tell his grandchildren.
Rescue teams took precautions to prevent contaminated water from spilling from a helicopter that had roughly an hour of fuel remaining at the time of the crash.