R-22 "Just Dropped, Really, Really Fast" -- Eyewitness
Midafternoon Thursday, a
public service/law enforcement flight came to an abrupt and tragic
end when a Robinson R-22 Beta helicopter, N887BC "dropped out of
the sky" and crashed in Washtenaw County, Michigan, near Zeeb Road
and I-94 in Scio Township, about five miles west of Ann Arbor.
The two men on board, pilot Matt Tuttle, 28, and Chelsea,
Michigan police chief Scott Sumner, 42, were killed. Tuttle was a
Chelsea fire captain and a friend of Sumner's. Local TV WXYZ
Channel 7 said that they were on the trail of an escapee from
Macomb County, Michigan.
Eyewitness Tanja Shields of Ann Arbor described the crash to
reporters: "It was almost like he knew something was wrong. He was
going a little slower, no smoke, no weird noises...and all of a
sudden it just dropped really, really fast. And all we hear is this
The red helicopter appeared to have plunged into the ground
vertically, in a level attitude with little if any forward motion,
and little rotation of the rotors, which were bent but not
separated. The cabin of the craft was crushed vertically to a
fraction of its height. There was no postcrash fire.
Tuttle volunteered his chopper when he heard the police were
searching for the suspect.
The Associated Press reported that the 33-year-old suspect fled
into the woods after a traffic stop on I-94, and that Tuttle and
Sumner had often teamed up on similar cases before. Tuttle was also
a reserve police officer with Sumner's department.
Sheriff's officers who witnessed the crash attempted CPR on the
victims, but without success. They continued until paramedics
arrived and pronounced the two men dead.
There was no word on
what became of the suspect.
The helicopter was privately owned, according to media reports.
The craft was registered to a business in Chelsea, "Matt's
FAA and local authorities secured the scene. The accident will
be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Both men were lifelong residents of Chelsea, and were known to
practically all the town's 5,000 citizens. Flags in the small town
have been lowered to half-staff in mourning.
Aero-News extends our condolences to the families of the