Authorities in southern California say that there was no distress call made before a helicopter crashed into a home, killing three people and injuring two others. According to Fox 40, at around 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the Robinson R44 helicopter suddenly went down just shortly after taking off from the John Wayne Airport.
The four-seat helicopter, owned by Spitzer Helicopter, was on its way to Catalina Island but never made it when it reportedly crashed into a home in a gated community, located at the corner of Shearwater Place and Egret Court, which is about a mile from the airport.
The pilot and two passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. Officials identified the victims of the helicopter crash as Joseph Anthony Tena, 60, of Newport Beach, Kimberly Lynne Watzman, 45, of Santa Monica, and 56-year-old Brian Reichelt, of Hollywood, Florida.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department says that two others were injured after the Newport Beach crash, but their condition or identities have not been released.
KTLA reported that maintenance records were examined on Wednesday, and it showed that the pilot did not make a distress call before crashing into a home in Newport Beach. At this time, it is unknown which one of the deceased was piloting.
It was alleged that while a woman was inside of her home in the Bayview Terrace neighborhood, she could hear “helicopter propellers slowing down as if an aircraft was losing power.”
When she raced to her balcony, she saw the helicopter crash into the roof of her neighbor’s home before striking another on the side.
“It was like a train hitting a wall,” the woman said. “You just knew something horrible had happened.”
David Henry lives a few houses away from the crash site, and he told local news that he heard the helicopter just moments before it crashed. He rushed to the aircraft, along with other neighbors, to render aid, but when they heard the ambulance nearby, they decided to wait.
“We were afraid of hurting them worse,” said Henry.
After the crash, recent reports indicated that the helicopter was not recognizable; crushed and twisted metal and debris lay scattered across the side of the home.
The circumstances leading up to the helicopter crash remain unknown, but an investigation is underway. Officials say it could take several months, possibly a year, to determine what caused the helicopter to crash into a Newport Beach home.