Deadly helicopter crash occurs in quiet neighborhood near Maplewood Nature Center


Vehicles from several local law enforcement and fire departments blocked off access to East Seventh St. near the Maplewood Nature Center after a helicopter crash June 19.

Unidentified pilot perishes in fiery incident

A helicopter under contract with the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District plummeted into a Maplewood resident's detached garage on the 2700 block of East Seventh Street near the Maplewood Nature Center this morning around 8:15 a.m., according to a press release from the Maplewood Police Department.

The helicopter was piloted by one person, who died in the crash. The pilot's name has not yet been released.

Maplewood police, fire and emergency medical service vehicles, Oakdale fire trucks, Ramsey County sheriff's deputies, Minnesota state troopers and representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration all rushed to the scene.

In a press release sent to the Review, Acting Police Chief Dave Kvam states that the National Transportation Safety Board will be heading the investigation.

Oakdale fire officials could not comment on any specifics of the incident, but Fire Chief Jeff Anderson said the department responded due to a mutual aid agreement between the two cities, and covered diverted emergency calls from Maplewood while Maplewood firefighters responded to the crash site.

Reports say the crash ignited 20- to 30-foot high flames that consumed the garage, which is still standing.

Certified veterinary technician Sue Jex, who works at nearby Century Animal Clinic, said she and a coworker pulled up to work just before 8 a.m. and saw a helicopter flying "lower than normal" in the area.

Soon after, Jex went to the clinic's back room and that's when the crash occurred. "I heard a loud boom and felt the room shake," Jex said.

Jex and her coworker hurried outside to investigate, and they were met by another man parked in the parking lot who said he'd witnessed the crash, and he pointed out the smoke coming from the crash site. Jex said the three saw the garage on fire, but did not see the remains of the helicopter itself.

"It was quite traumatizing," Jex said.

The Maplewood Nature Center remains open, with access available from Mayhill Road, just north of the scene of the accident. This afternoon's children's program, "Turtle Tales," is still scheduled to occur.

A maintenance worker at the nature center reportedly witnessed the crash.  

Neighbors just a couple blocks away said they heard wailing sirens in the area, but did not hear a crash. Closer residents reported hearing a whirring sound before the helicopter nose-dived into the garage.

This report is developing. Check back at www.lillienews.com for more breaking news.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7814.
Alex Holmquist contributed to this report.

 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here