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The Latest: Sheriff: Helicopter broke apart before crashing

October 07, 2016 - 8:01 AM

LINO LAKES, Minn. - The Latest on a fiery helicopter crash in a Twin Cities suburb (all times local):

9:55 a.m.

Sheriff's officials say a helicopter that crashed in a Twin Cities suburb and killed two people apparently broke apart as it fell from the sky.

The Anoka County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Friday that the wreckage was still on fire when emergency personnel arrived at the sod field in Lino Lakes where the helicopter crashed. Authorities say the amount of debris scattered over several hundred yards suggests the helicopter was breaking apart as it descended.

The sheriff's office says the pilot was a 48-year-old Minneapolis man and his passenger was a 47-year-old woman from Blaine. Their remains have been recovered from the crash scene.

Witnesses told investigators they heard a loud pop or explosion and saw the helicopter's rotors stop spinning before it started falling and breaking apart.

Authorities say the 1982 Fairchild Hiller had been on a flight earlier in the day with no mechanical issues. Officials say the second, fatal flight originated at the Anoka County Airport in Blaine.

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7:40 a.m.

Sheriff's officials say two people died when a helicopter burst into flames as it crashed into a field in a Twin Cities suburb. The aircraft crashed near a residential area in Lino Lakes Thursday evening igniting into what Anoka County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer described as a "large fireball."

Sommer tweeted Friday that there are two confirmed fatalities. No one on the ground was hurt.

Sommer described conflicting witness accounts of what happened to the helicopter before it crashed about 5:30 p.m. Some witnesses reported seeing the helicopter's blade stop turning before it "dropped out of the sky," he said. Others told authorities that the helicopter began to break up before hitting the ground and bursting into flames.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. Lino Lakes is about 17 miles north of downtown St. Paul.

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This item has been corrected to show Sommer tweeted Friday that two people died, not Thursday.

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6:00 a.m.

A Minnesota sheriff's official says "multiple fatalities" are likely following a helicopter crash in the Twin Cities suburb of Lino Lakes.

The aircraft crashed in a field near a residential area Thursday evening. Anoka County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer says it's too early to say who was travelling in the helicopter because "it's basically charred-up debris."

No one on the ground was hurt.

Sommer says witnesses reported seeing the helicopter's blade stop turning before it went down.

Federal Aviation Administration is expected to investigate the cause of the crash. Authorities are asking Lino Lakes residents to contact the police if they find any objects that could be debris from the aircraft.

Lino Lakes is about 17 miles north of downtown St. Paul.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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