2011-05-05 / Local & State

Reality TV Copter Crew Goes Down

INDIANA, Pa. (AP) – Authorities in western Pennsylvania say a helicopter carrying a reality television crew crashed near Indiana University of Pennsylvania, seriously injuring two of the four people aboard, but no fatalities were reported.

The helicopter went down shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday in between two apartment buildings. Officials say no one on the ground was injured.

“We heard an airplane sound coming down real low,” IUP freshman Lauren Yates of Harrison City in Westmoreland County told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It kept getting lower and lower and spun a few times. It landed on the roof and fell down and over on the cement.”

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said Sunday that one of the three passengers, who are all Canadian citizens, walked away but the other three people were injured. One was in critical condition while another was in serious condition. The condition of the other person was unknown, he said. A spokeswoman for Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh confirmed that the pilot had been taken there but declined to release information about his condition.

University spokeswoman Michelle Fryling said the reality television show “Campus PD,” which has no affiliation with the state-owned university, was working with borough police in the area.

“It's a miracle that no one was injured,” Fryling said. “We are just so grateful that none of our students and none of our residents were injured.”

Two students evacuated from the building as a precaution while authorities secured the scene had asked for temporary housing, she said. The university's last day of classes was Friday and most students are studying for finals, she said.

Peters identified the heli- copter as a Robinson R44 owned by Penn Helicopter LLC of Friedens, Pa. The company did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Mayor George Hood told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that officials knew the crew had planned to use a helicopter at some point but did not know it was Sunday night.

The Indiana Gazette reported Friday morning that the crew had been tagging along with borough officers responding to calls around town for the G4 channel show, which it said is filmed in the style of “COPS.” Sgt. William Vojtek, who was serving as a liaison to the crew, said the department viewed the show as an opportunity to show the community the kind of problems that officers routinely deal with.

“It’s good to show the job we actually do out here,” he said.

Peters said the FAA aviation safety inspector who responded will investigate the crash for the National Transportation Safety Board. Officials planned to remove the wreckage of the helicopter Sunday, he said.

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