Two Killed, Four Injured When Broward County Sheriff’s Helicopter Crashes Into Florida Apartment Building
Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

Two people were killed and four others sustained injuries in Florida on Monday morning when a Broward County Sheriff’s Fire Rescue helicopter engine failed and crashed into an apartment building in Pompano Beach, authorities said.

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony told reporters authorities received a distress call around 8:45 a.m. that prompted three emergency crew members to board a Eurocopter EC135 rescue helicopter and depart within a minute. Roughly two minutes after it launched from the Pompano Beach Airpark, Tony said a fire broke out onboard and other mechanical issues occurred causing it to crash into a triplex building about two miles from the launch pad.

Tony said Captain/Flight Paramedic Terryson Jackson, 50, and an unidentified woman in her home were killed in the crash. Authorities transported the other two crew members onboard and two others to Broward Health, who reportedly sustained minor injuries.

“Terryson was a rock star,” Tony said. “He was one of the best of us, one of the brightest. He bled this profession inside and out all day long,” the sheriff said. “There’s almost 6,000 people in this agency. I’m not going to meet everybody, and I haven’t, but that man I knew. I knew very well. And the type of effort and commitment he had for this community – impeccable.”

Tony identified the two other crew members as Pilot Daron Roche, 37, who has been with BSO for four years, and firefighter/paramedic Mikael “Mike” Chaguaceda, 31, who has been with BSO for five years, local media reported.

“This tragedy is really going to challenge us as a community, as every single tragedy has done since this agency has been around,” Tony said. “I will tell you we are hurting. We are an organization that has gotten past all these different divisions over the years, and we have become a family. We are going to suffer, we are going to hurt, but this community should know we’re prepared to answer the next call. We are not going to lose our focus even though we are hurting and dealing with our own tragedy.”

Video footage captured by nearby onlookers shows a trail of smoke behind the helicopter before it broke in half and spiraled out of control when it hit the ground. Other videos show the apartment building on fire as the two surviving passengers crawl out safely.

Local 10 News spoke with the father and sister of the two injured civilians, who said her two brothers were inside their apartment when the helicopter crashed.

“I’m trying to find out what’s happening with my brothers,” the unidentified victim’s sister said. “They’re at the hospital, and I just got a phone call from my son, and I don’t know what’s going on.”

Ruben Chavez, a local man working near the crash site, told CBS News he rushed to help the victims after hearing the helicopter crash.

“The top of the roof was all fire,” Chavez said. “A big ball of fire, that’s all. And then, a second explosion. I ran over there, but the police, the first two cops who got there, pushed us back, and that’s when the second explosion happened. We felt the heat, and that’s when we said we gotta go.”

Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said during a news conference reported by CBS News that separate investigations from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Agency are underway.

“In incidents like this, when aircraft go down, you see parallel investigations that have to occur,” she said. “We’re asking for the public to be patient with us.”

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