ANTIOCH, Calif. (CBS13/AP) — The first person on the scene of a mid-air collision between a helicopter and airplane says the falling helicopter narrowly missed his car carrying his family.
The collision happened Sunday night just south of the Rio Vista Municipal Airport in southern Sacramento County.
Jimmy Alexander and his family had just crossed the Antioch Bridge at around 7 p.m. when, he says, the helicopter fell out of nowhere and narrowly missed his car before crashing into a field.
Alexander told his wife to call 9-1-1 and ran out to help the pilot. He was surprised to see the female pilot already climbing out of the two-seat helicopter with only minor injuries.
“As we got to the ditch she was already coming out of the plane and the only words out of her mouth was she was okay. She’d turned the gas off and she’d been hit by a plane that didn’t have any lights on,” Alexander said.
Wayne Prodger, the owner of Vertical CFI Helicopters in Hayward, tells The Associated Press the chopper pilot, a 29-year-old woman, is an experienced commercial airplane pilot who was logging night-flying hours toward a helicopter license.
Prodger says the woman told him she briefly saw the Beechcraft Bonanza behind her around 7 p.m. Sunday. The next thing she knew, the plane struck the chopper’s skids and she was falling to the ground.
He declined to give his student’s name, saying she’s still shaken up. Both pilots suffered only minor injuries.
Prodger says it would have been a full-on collision if the Beechcraft was just a few feet higher.
The six-seat Beechcraft suffered damage but continued on with the pilot making a hard, but safe, landing near the Byron Airport.
An FAA and NTSB investigation into the collision is ongoing.