Houston police officer killed, pilot critical as chopper crashes into apartment complex after hoax call
The chopper had been flying to assist with a search for bodies in a nearby bayou before it crashed
A Houston police officer has died and another officer has been critically injured following a helicopter crash, the city's police chief and mayor have confirmed.
A pilot and a tactical flight officer were aboard the chopper when it clipped the Biscayne at Cityview complex's clubhouse and crashed into an apartment complex around 2 am, according to the Daily Mail.
After the accident, they were trapped in the "mangled" wreckage for close to an hour before they were pulled out by firefighters and flown to a hospital, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo at a press conference.
The tactical flight officer's injuries proved too serious and he died at the hospital, he said, adding that the pilot is "very banged up" and still in surgery. No one else was hurt.
Acevedo thanked the "phenomenal" fire department and said there were two silver linings in the horrific crash. The first was that, while the wreckage was "pretty significant," the chopper didn't catch fire. The second was that the helicopter had avoided striking occupied apartment buildings.
He revealed that the tactical flight officer is survived by his wife and two young children, who were at the hospital along with the officer's parents and in-laws. He added they would not be releasing the names of the officers involved in the crash until their extended families had been informed about the crash.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Acevedo during the presser and asked the people of the city to show their support to the police and the families of the officers during this difficult time.
"I want to ask the city of Houston to continue to lift up, number one, both families, but especially lift up the family of the police officer who has died this morning," he said. "And then at the same time lift up the entire HPD family."
The helicopter, identified as a "75 Fox" had reportedly been flying to assist with a search for bodies in a nearby bayou, though the police chief admitted the call that prompted its dispatch was "probably a bogus call."
He noted that shots had rung out across the street from the scene of the crash at around 3 am and that six people had been taken into custody but stressed that there was no indication that the chopper had been brought down by hostile action.
"It's pretty ironic that yesterday we graduated a class and we had Fox fly out because we had Covid, so we couldn't do your traditional graduation so we wanted to do something special," he said.
"And if somebody had told me that a few hours later that we had an aircraft down and we'd lose a really good man, I would have said, 'No way.'"
The police department has said it will be shutting down flights until it has a chance to reassess the situation in the coming days and that it will be relying on the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Harris County Sheriff's Office for flight support in the meantime.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will be looking into the crash while the police department simultaneously conducts a homicide investigation, Acevedo said.