Pilot rescued after helicopter crashes into San Diego Bay - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Pilot rescued after helicopter crashes into San Diego Bay

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An investigation was under way Monday into what caused a helicopter to crash in San Diego Bay.

The crash near the San Diego-Coronado Bridge was reported at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday, according to San Diego Harbor police Lt. James Jordan.

Harbor police scooped up the lone pilot, who was taken to UCSD Medical Center for injuries he suffered in the crash, Jordan said.

The 69-year-old experienced pilot suffered from cuts, bruises and back pain, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, which also reported that the copter crashed shortly after taking off from a yacht.

This is an update. The original story is below.

SAN DIEGO (CBS8) -  A helicopter crash-landed in the San Diego Bay Sunday evening just before 6:30 p.m.

According to San Diego and Harbor Police, the helicopter attempted to make an emergency landing on the Coronado Bridge, but ended up ditching in the water instead. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

The 69-year-old pilot, who has more than two decades of flight experience, told authorities that the helicopter lost power shortly after taking off from a charter yacht docked in the Fifth Avenue Terminal behind the Convention Center.

According to officials, the pilot was the only person on board the helicopter that took off from the 'Leight Star'.  That yacht ports at Shelter Island, according to the Convention and Visitor's Bureau website.

Eyewitnesses say the helicopter came dangerously close to striking the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge.

"It was so close to the bridge," said Sylvia Estrada, who happened to be videotaping when she witnessed the helicopter go down. "I am shocked that I saw it. I never saw anything like that."

"I have never seen a helicopter go so low that fast before," said Juan Gonzalez, another eyewitness.

The pilot was able to deploy flotation devices to keep the aircraft from sinking.  A rescue crew from San Diego Harbor Police happened to be in the area, and arrived at the crash site within one minute.

"When I arrived on the scene, the helicopter was completely down," said Officer Tim Wright with San Diego Harbor Police, who rescued the pilot from the wreckage.

"We found the pilot still in the canopy of the helicopter," Wright added. "The canopy was broken in around him. "

According to authorities, every moment of this rescue operation counted.

"The fear is, with an aircraft or vessel, is whether it is going down," Wright said. "We don't want him to go down with it, or if there was anybody else inside, or also our own personnel."

The pilot was talking to police when he was brought to shore. He was transported to UCSD Medial Center for treatment of lacerations and other non-life-threatening injuries. His condition is unknown.

Sunday evening, the wreckage of the helicopter had been pulled from the bay and taken to a dock off Cesar Chavez parkway in San Diego.

San Diego Harbor Police will remain on the scene throughout the evening to complete its investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board is also expected to conduct its own investigation into why the chopper crashed.

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