CHATHAM PORT – Two people were seriously injured Friday afternoon when a helicopter crashed into shallow water at the edge of Crow's Pond.
The pilot, John Ryan, 48, of Scituate, and a passenger, Tyra Pacheco, 48, of Acushnet, were extricated from the wreckage at the edge of the tidal pond and taken by ambulance to Hyannis. Ryan was in serious condition at Cape Cod Hospital, while Pacheco was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where she was listed in critical condition, according to Chatham Police Lt. Michael Anderson.
Deputy Fire Chief Peter Connick said both suffered serious multiple trauma injuries, but were conscious when rescue personnel arrived on the scene.
Police received a call for a helicopter down in the pond at 12:46 p.m., said Anderson. The four-person helicopter was found at the water's edge behind 204 and 208 Crow's Pond Rd. Anderson said the pilot did an excellent job landing the helicopter away from homes and partially in shallow water and partially on the marshgrass.
“Five more feet out and they're wet and they're under water,” he said.
Anderson said according to witnesses, the helicopter's engine sputtered before it went down. "They all said it was not a violent collision, more of a controlled forced landing," he said.
Connick said because of the location of the helicopter, power tools could not be used to extricate the victims. Hand tools were instead used to cut them out of the vehicle. He said the female was the more seriously injured of the two; because of the extent of her injuries, she was taken by the harbormaster boat to an ambulance at Ryder's Cove. The male was transported up the bank and across the lawn of 204 Crow's Pond Road to a waiting ambulance.
Eva Japowicz owns the home at 204 Crow's Pond Rd. and said she was in her kitchen when she heard the motor of the helicopter, which is not uncommon. However, when she looked up she could see it coming down over the trees from a southerly direction.
“Lower, lower, then I heard a boom,” she said.
After calling 911 she went down to the water and could hear the woman moaning and the man reassuring her. Both were pinned in the aircraft, she said.
Anderson said from eyewitness accounts, it appeared the chopper fell from a height of about 100 feet, just along the tree line above the coastal bank.
Ryan owns Ryan Rotors, Inc. of Scituate. According to the Ryan Rotors website, the company provides helicopter tours and aerial photography services. Anderson said Pacheco, owner of Tyra Pacheco Photography, had hired Ryan to take aerial photographs for a local real estate company. The flight originated in Plymouth.
The helicopter was a 2002 Robinson, seating four people.
The Federal Aviation Administration has been advised of the crash and was expected to be on scene Saturday morning. Anderson said the site would be secured overnight by state police.
Harbormaster Stuart Smith and his crew deployed a boom to contain any leaking fuel or oil while a Chatham Coast Guard vessel stood by just offshore. Anderson said the Coast Guard and state department of environmental protection were on site to take further steps to prevent environmental damage. It was not immediately clear if any fuel or oil had leaked into the water.