A Florida man was reportedly decapitated after a helicopter he was performing maintenance on suddenly and unexpectedly jerked upward and then dipped down, authorities say.
The fatal accident took place at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport on Thursday afternoon. As WFTS Tampa reported, 61-year-old Salvatore Disi was working on the helicopter when the aircraft had an unexpected malfunction, leading it to crash into him.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported that the victim was on the ground at the time of the accident, and a witness who called in the accident said he and another man were using a power cart to jumpstart the helicopter. Authorities arrived to find the man dead.
Images from the scene showed a blue helicopter parked on a concrete runway surrounded by police cars and a U-Haul truck. It was not clear exactly what the maintenance workers were doing, or if someone was piloting the helicopter at the time of the fatal accident.
This is the second fatal aircraft incident in Florida in a matter of weeks. In December, video caught the moment a small plane crashed into a building that houses a therapy center for children with autism, bursting into flames. As NBC New York reported, the pilot was identified as Eladio Marquez, a New Jersey man who worked as a flight instructor.
The pilot’s widow, Belkis Marquez, said that her husband was flying with a friend who had been a former flight student. Both were killed in the crash, though none of the children or teachers in the building were injured.
While authorities were still investigating the cause of the crash, Marquez’s widow believed it was not caused by pilot error. She noted that her husband’s plane recently had an annual maintenance checkup, and she believes something was wrong with it.
“The airplane was not in good shape because it was at the mechanic,” she said, via NBC New York.
Marquez added that her husband never had an accident in 13 years of working as a flight instructor.
“He never had another accident on the airplane,” Belkis Marquez said. “He was an excellent pilot, and excellent instructor.”
A death investigation is underway at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport after a person was decapitated by a helicopter, WFTS reported. https://t.co/9Zooz2Ar4C— AJC (@ajc) January 11, 2019
The fatal helicopter accident at the Tampa airport remains under investigation by the FAA and NTSB, the WFTS Tampa report noted. While the incident appears to be an accident, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said he wants to “absolutely rule out” foul play by completing a thorough investigation.