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Wed, Aug 30, 2023

Sheriff’s Department Helicopter Impacts Florida Apartment Building

Two Killed, Four Wounded in Apparent Engine-Out Mishap

Two people lost their lives and at least four others were injured when a Broward County, Florida Sheriff's Office EC135 helicopter carrying three occupants impacted a Pompano Beach apartment building.

The accident, which resulted in a structural fire, occurred on 28 August 2023 at approximately 08:45 EDT.

Witness Cary Allen reported looking skyward and perceiving, immediately, that the helicopter was imperiled.

"I saw just a bunch of black smoke coming from the helicopter and I knew it was out of control,” Allen stated. “It started to circle and was out of control and plummeted down towards the apartment. I just heard three loud explosions, just boom, boom, boom. It was very, very loud, and I said to myself, ‘something bad happened.’ I feel just terrible, just terrible."

Killed in the mishap were firefighter Terryson Jackson and a woman residing in the apartment struck by the helicopter.

Speaking to the subject of Jackson’s death, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony set forth: "He was one of my firefighters. We lost one of our captains today who was onboard serving his community, hoping that he would get a chance to do what he does best, which is to land and extract somebody else. Unfortunately, in the crash he was trapped, could not get out, and we lost him.”

Injured in the accident were Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue employees Daron Roche, 37, the helicopter’s pilot; and firefighter paramedic Mikael "Mike" Chaguaceda, 31. Two persons on the ground were also injured. All four victims were transported to North Broward Medical Center.  

Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright disclosed during a news conference that the helicopter had been en route to North Lauderdale for purpose of picking up an accident victim when it encountered difficulty of an as-of-yet unknown nature.

Sheriff Tony stated only that a fire had broken out aboard the helicopter and additional mechanical issues ensued.

Video of the accident showed smoke emitting from the aircraft prior to its impacting the eighty-unit apartment building.

An unidentified party residing in the building reported hearing a loud crash before being ordered to evacuate the premises.

Ruben Chavez, who works in the vicinity of the accident-site, stated he heard the helicopter impact the building and rushed to render aid.

"The top of the roof was all fire,” Mr. Chavez asserted. “A big ball of fire, that's all. And then, a second explosion. I ran over there but the police, the first two cops who got there, pushed us back and that's when the second explosion happened. We felt the heat and that's when we said ‘we gotta go.’”

Jared Liverpool captured video of two of the helicopter’s occupants crawling from the aircraft’s wreckage and onto the apartment building’s roof.

"My heart was just racing,” Mr. Liverpool confided, “there was a lot going on at the moment. I just felt many emotions. I was scared, nervous. Surprisingly, the two men in their uniforms didn't look like they had any injuries on them at all. One of them said that their ribs were broken probably, but they seemed fine. They struggled a bit climbing up the roof, but they got down; a police officer was asking them if they were okay, if they needed any help. They were taken to the hospital in fair condition."

Mr. Liverpool added: "I was thankful it didn't hit my house. I live by the Pompano Beach Air Park and I am used to planes flying very low. I have never seen anything like this before."

Julie Smith, a neighbor of Liverpool’s, said of the accident: "It sounded like a real loud, bad explosion. It was like devastating, and it was scary."

According to air traffic controllers, Daron Roche, the helicopter’s pilot, reported engine failure moments before the accident.

As the EC135 is a twin-engine helicopter, it remains unclear whether one or both the machine’s powerplants failed.

The NTSB and FAA have undertaken investigation of the occurrence.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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