HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Two people died Monday afternoon when a helicopter working a controlled burn crashed in Harrison County. Another person is in critical condition after being airlifted to USA Medical Center in Mobile, AL.
Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan said all three people were members of the U.S. Forest Service. The helicopter they were in crashed near Airey Tower Road, off Highway 67. The crew was working on a prescribed burn of 800 acres in the Desoto National Forest near the Harrison/Stone County line.
An eyewitness told WLOX News he saw the chopper working the fire, and could tell something didn't seem right.
"The helicopter was circling around the fire and within the next couple of minutes I saw it. It was landing on purpose, but it sounded like a little maybe in distress. But then shortly there after a rescue came in and was wanting to know how to get back there," said Earnest Richardson Junior. "You could tell something was wrong at the end of it, but I didn't know it was that bad. It kinda looked like he was almost landing for a minute. But like I said, I'm not sure because it circled around the fire. I thought maybe he was trying to land."
At 6pm, Harrison County crews started setting up portable lights for what they said will be a long night of evidence collection at the crash site. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be the lead investigative agency.