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Video: Sacramento Metro Fire Avoids Helicopter Accident In San Francisco Training

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A review is underway after a helicopter that Sacramento Metro Fire uses nearly crashed into the San Francisco Bay.

Video obtained exclusively by CBS13 shot from the side of a helicopter shows an October training exercise that nearly turned tragic.

The helicopter’s rescue cable hoisting two firefighters suddenly snagged on the boat below, putting the chopper into a steep descent.

Battalion Chief Michael Lozano struggled against gravity to hit a switch that triggers emergency explosive bolts, cutting the cable that is now dragging the helicopter toward the bay.

It blows off just as the aircraft skids are about to hit the water.

“We were kind of thrown off-balance in the back of the aircraft as well,” Lozano said. Clearly we weren’t ready for that turn to happen.”

Metro Fire’s helicopter is mostly used to fight fires, but the life-saving training on the bay is something that could be used during floods or river rescues.

Crew members credit their hundreds of hours of experience and training with averting a potential tragedy.

“The four of us were on the same page as far as what needed to happen exactly when it needed to happen, ’cause there wasn’t another half a second,” Lozano said.

The two firefighters dangling from the cable were dropped into the bay, but not seriously injured. The department says so far it appears as if the crew members did everything correctly, but they are still doing a full investigation.

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