Aviation accidents are rare compared to car crashes. However, they are often extreme when they happen. I was saddened to see reports about how one person died in a Williamsburg helicopter crash on Sunday.
The victim was in a condominium building that caught fire after being hit by a helicopter.
The chopper struck a 10-unit building in the Bristol Commons neighborhood of Williamsburg causing a serious fire which was not brought under control until hours after the crash, reported The Daily Press.
Virginia State Police confirmed at least one casualty in the building late on Sunday. The person who died was not the pilot of the helicopter, according to state police spokeswoman Michelle Anaya. Other identifying information was not available on Sunday night.
Virginia State Police said the building in the 1100 block of Settlement Drive was hit around 4:42 p.m. Many details of the Williamsburg helicopter crash were lacking on Sunday night including how the crash occurred, what injuries were sustained, or what type of helicopter was involved in the crash.
Information from residents suggested a small helicopter was involved in the crash. Pieces of the aircraft were visible as firefighters fought the blaze.
As crews battled the fire, pieces of the helicopter were visible on what was left of the structure. News reports suggested the fire was contained to one building in the complex but much of that building was destroyed. A piece of the building or the helicopter was seen falling on a firefighter.
Multiple agencies attended the fire scene including Williamsburg fire and police personnel, College of William and Mary police, York County’s drone team and Virginia State Police.
The investigation into the Williamsburg helicopter crash is expected to go on for days. Anaya said crews were not able to go into the building at 8:45 p.m., four hours after the accident, because of hot spots inside. She expected the investigation to go on for up to three days.
Ironbound Road, the road between the apartment complex and the Dillard Complex, was closed for a couple hours after the helicopter crash.
An alert was sent out by the College of William and Mary about the crash. The college told people to avoid the area near the Dillard Complex.
The plane ended up in the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Virginia State Police initially confirmed two people died. The death toll was later updated to three.
Several agencies, including Norfolk and Virginia Beach fire and rescue crews, the U.S. Coast Guard and nearby Little Creek began looking for the aircraft after the plane lost communication with the airport around 4:30 a.m. Thick fog appeared to be a factor in this crash. At one point, Coast Guard crews only had about 25 yards of visibility.