2 injured in Sierra forest helicopter crash

A helicopter crash at Buck Island Lake in Eldorado National Forest Friday afternoon left two people on board with serious injuries.

El Dorado County Sheriff's Department said four people were in the helicopter when it crashed. A man with head injuries and a man with leg injuries were flown to a Reno Hospital. Both of the victims' injuries are non-life threatening. The two other occupants were able to walk away from the crash.

The crash happened around 1 p.m. Friday just below the dam at Buck island Lake, according to those who knew the passengers aboard and were monitoring the rescue using ham radio gear.

"Everybody survived the crash and everybody should be just fine. You know, I guess a couple went to Reno and it's amazing that (with) a helicopter crash, everybody's going to be just fine," said David Farley, who was preparing to drive in to Spider Lake along the Rubicon Trail.

The helicopter's location was several miles east of Loon Lake, accessible only by hiking in, four-wheel-drive vehicles or helicopter, according to Sgt. Chris Felon.

The helicopter was helping the annual Jeepers Jamboree event for the weekend, the sheriff's department said. It is registered to Heli-Flite Inc, based in Hollister, California, south of San Jose.

Many who were driving the trail were not aware of the crash, but suspected something was wrong because of the activity in the air above.

"We saw helicopters flying up there and we saw a plane that I think was circling over Buck Island Lake," said Rich Whittington, of Livermore.

Others marveled that everyone survived a crash on the rugged granite of the Sierra Nevada.

"There's a lot of open spaces, but there's a lot of open rock too. Any helicopter crash, that's pretty crazy. They're pretty hard to bring down, I guess, without destroying them." said San Francisco resident Brian Triffet, who was riding his trail bike in to nearby Spider Lake.

Sheriff's deputies and the California Highway Patrol also responded. The FAA and the NTSB are investigating the crash.

It was not known yet what caused the crash.


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