A Florida rescue pilot described what happened in the moments before his helicopter caught fire and crashed into an apartment building, killing two people, according to a report released Friday.
Pilot Daron Roche said he heard the bang at about 400 feet shortly after the twin-engine Broward County Fire-Rescue helicopter took off from Pompano Beach Airpark on Aug. 28, the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report said. The crew was on the way to pick up a victim injured in a traffic accident.
Roche said his control panel showed that one engine’s temperature was rising. He radioed air traffic controllers about the emergency and tried to return to the airport, according to the report.
The fire warning light had illuminated, so he activated the suppression system, but the temperature gauge kept rising, Roche told investigators.
Roche said he heard a second bang before spinning out of control. The report said the tail had partially separated from the helicopter.
The helicopter crashed into an apartment building, killing paramedic Captain Terryson Jackson and apartment resident Lurean Wheaton. Roche and paramedic Mike Chaguaceda were injured.
The helicopter was built in 1999 and its engines were rebuilt seven years ago, the report said. The helicopter was last inspected in May.
The safety board has not yet determined what caused the fire. Its investigations usually take about a year to complete.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.