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2 victims of Minnesota helicopter crash identified

Investigators looks over the scene where a helicopter crashed in a field in Lino Lakes, Minn., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Two people died when a helicopter erupted in "a large fireball" as it crashed into a field in the Twin Cities suburb, a sheriff's official said Friday. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)
October 10, 2016 - 4:11 PM

LINO LAKES, Minn. - Authorities have released the names of two people killed in a helicopter crash in a Twin Cities suburb last week.

The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office identified the victims Monday as 48-year-old Matthew Hayes and his passenger, 47-year-old Deborah Smith.

The Anoka County Sheriff's Office has said Hayes was from Minneapolis and Smith was from Blaine.

Sheriff's officials say the helicopter apparently broke apart as it fell from the sky before crashing and bursting into flames in a sod field in Lino Lakes on Thursday.

Officials say the amount of debris scattered over several hundred yards suggested the helicopter was breaking apart as it descended.

No one on the ground was hurt.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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