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Last updated 5:52AM ET
May 9, 2021
Witnesses Saw Fireball Near Engine Before Fatal Crash
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Witnesses cited in a preliminary report heard a decrease in engine noise and a "fireball" near the engine exhaust as a rescue helicopter looking for a lost hunter crashed into Colbert County woods, killing the pilot and two passengers.

The December 30th crash killed Air Evac workers Michael Baker, the pilot, and medical technicians Allan Bragwell and Tiffany Miles.

A final report by the National Transportation Safety Board is not expected for months. But its preliminary findings released yesterday detail damage to and position of the helicopter after the crash.

The crew had spotted the hunter about 3:06 a.m. and positioned the Bell helicopter about 100 to 150 feet above the trees in the Freedom Hills Wildlife Management area, then went down minutes later.

Buel Springer, a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division and instructor at Fort Rucker, read the report. He said the information still wouldn't determine whether the problem was mechanical or pilot error.

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