GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – A helicopter made a hard landing Sunday afternoon only a few yards away from spectators and participants in a skateboarding event on Lookout Mountain.
The private helicopter went down nose first on the steep slope in Golden at about 2:30 p.m. right by Lookout Mountain Road. The helicopter was recording video of the Buffalo Bill Downhill race, an annual skateboarding competition on Lookout Mountain.
Dozens of spectators on the sides of the road had to take immediate cover as the blades of the helicopter came dangerously near.
Three people on board the helicopter all survived.
In video of the incident shot by a witness and obtained by CBS4 the helicopter’s top rotor can be seen clipping a tree and then the tail rotor falls off.
A witness told CBS4 the people in the helicopter “waited until the propeller stopped hitting things and then they got out like crazy.”
The helicopter was registered to Colorado Heli-Ops, a Broomfield company. Owner Dennis Pierce told CBS4 on Monday that the pilot reported a loss of power and that he put the helicopter down in the best place he could under the circumstances.
Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board told CBS4 there were no mechanical problems with the aircraft.
Jennifer Rodi, a senior air safety investigator with NTSB told CBS4 the copter, a Robinson R44, suffered “substantial damage,” including a partially separated tail boom. She’s waiting for the pilot, whose name is not being released, to file a written report describing what happened. Such a report must be filed within 10 days of the accident.
Rodi also confirmed there was a fuel leak from the impact damage but it caused no fire. Rodi says the NTSB expects to release a finding of probable cause in approximately 4 months.
Emergency officials closed the road for several hours after the incident.
The names of the pilot and passengers so far are not being released.