Doorbell Camera Video Shows Moment Helicopter Crashes Into Yard 

The pilot and passenger "heard a pop and then they started losing altitude."

A doorbell camera and a distant cameraman captured the scary moment a helicopter crashed into a front yard in suburban Fresno, California, injuring two people. As soon as the craft came down, a neighbor got footage of the immediate aftermath. Read on to see what happened just before and after the crash, and what investigators think caused the copter to spiral out of control.

Two Video Perspectives on the Accident

Flight Emergency/Twitter

The crash happened around 10 a.m. on Saturday, and a neighbor's Ring doorbell camera caught the whole thing. In the footage, cars drive by the suburban street as a steady whirring noise is heard. Suddenly, a helicopter spirals into a front yard, shearing off the top of a palm tree and coming down hard in a cloud of dust.

Two people onboard were hospitalized with minor injuries – the 47-year-old pilot and a 33-year-old passenger. Video published by the Fresno Bee showed the immediate aftermath of the crash: the crumpled copter rested on its side in a yard while bystanders and police tended to the injured pilot and passenger. Keep reading to learn more and see the video.

Crash Also Captured From a Distance

Fox26 News

The accident was also captured from a more distant perspective. Fox 26 News broadcasted another video from a viewer which shows the helicopter appearing to stall. The engine seems to lose power, and the copter begins a spiraling descent, crashing behind some trees in the distance.

"Very Lucky" No Serious Injuries or Damage

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Fresno Police Lt. Charlie Chamalbide told the Fresno Bee that both survivors were able to get themselves out of the wrecked plane. First responders found the pilot lying on the ground nearby, and the passenger was walking around the crash site. "They were both conscious and breathing and talking to us," he said.

The pilot and passenger "heard a pop and then they started losing altitude," said Chamalbide. Nobody in the home was injured, and the property wasn't seriously damaged. The aircraft came down on a residential street with single-family homes on one side and senior apartments on the other. "It's very lucky that nothing else was damaged or anybody was injured," Chamalbide said.

Tail Rotor Apparently to Blame


Chamalbide said the helicopter was a surveying aircraft on a test run. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday that the copter appeared to have lost tail rotor control during the maintenance check flight. The NTSB will conduct a full investigation, which may take a year or two to complete. 

"Thank Goodness It Was Just a Tree"

Flight Emergency/Twitter

Kathy Logan, who lives in the Oak Park senior housing complex across the street, told the Fresno Bee that the helicopter sounded like it was having problems before the loud crash. "He sounded like he's losing power and he's getting closer," she said. "As soon as I said that, 'Bam, it crashed.'" "That was a Jesus moment – that he didn't hit nothing and nobody (else) was hurt," she added. "Thank goodness it was just a tree." 

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more
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