At around 1430 hours on Sunday September 20th, an emergency call went out that a helicopter had crashed on the Guejito Ranch in northern San Diego County. The two occupants of the R44 piston powered 4 seat helicopter, survived the crash and used a cell phone to call for help. Initial reports were that both occupants sustained injuries and needed assistance.
A San Diego Sheriff's patrol helicopter crewed by Pilot S. Rea and TFO G. Kneeshaw arrived on scene and began a search for the downed aircraft. The helicopter was subsequently located in an remote area inaccessible to vehicles.
Deputy Kneeshaw embarked on foot to contact and assist the injured occupants while Deputy Rea got back into the air to direct in the responding Cal-Fire and Sheriff's patrol units.
Due to the remote location it was quickly determined that both victims would need to be evacuated by way of a hoist rescue ship. A San Diego Sheriff's Fire/Rescue helicopter piloted by Deputy T. Weber, with an all Cal-Fire hoist crew, responded along with two Mercy Air medical helicopters. Basket lifts were conducted on both patients by the crew of Copter 10, before they were handed off to Mercy Air for the medical transport. Both patients are expected to fully recover from their injuries.
Initial information at the scene indicated that the helicopter may have been in a low orbit when the engine lost power and the helicopter suffered a hard landing. The helicopter did suffer significant damage to include the tail boom becoming separated from the aircraft. Unconfirmed reports are that the helicotper was new, with only 130 hours of total flying time. According to the Robinson Helicopter website a new R44 Raven II helicopter retails for $404,000.
PHP staff spoke to the manager of Guejito Ranch, a working cattle ranch and the largest of the original Spanish Land Grants still in existence in California today. The ranch manager confirmed that this is approximately the 6th air crash on the ranch in the past 2 years. He further confirmed that his level of frustration with air crashes and low flying helicopters buzzing cattle is at an all time high.
Low flying helicopter pilots would be smart to avoid the Guejito Ranch as a training area.
Police Helicopter Pilot.com wishes a speedy recovery to the injured flyers.