WEST PALM BEACH — The helicopter that came crashing down beside a home in Northwood has been removed from the yard, leaving a sliced palm tree and a salad of foliage where it fell Saturday afternoon.
Power has been restored to nearby homes which lost electricity when the small silver and red Robinson R-22 came falling.
And Nedra Obradovich, who was in the house when the helicopter crashed, continues to be in awe of the good fortune that both she as well as the pilot and passenger all survived the calamity.
The long-time Northwood resident believes the pilot may have been aiming for the empty part of her lot to the east of her house, but instead came crashing right beside her home - hitting the car she recently inherited from her mother first.
"My car actually broke the fall," Obradovich said today. "Apparently the helicopter fell on the car and rolled. Luckily the car was there. I never park it there. If it had fallen directly on the land they may not have survived the impact."
Police on the scene said the pilot reported losing control of the aircraft at 700 feet above ground and then tried to make a controlled landing.
The landing totaled Obradovich's inherited Ford Fusion, she believes.
She had been working on her computer in the moments before the crash and recalls standing to the roar of something approaching.
"It sounded like rolling thunder," Obradovich said. "It was circling."
After the crash Obradovich found a man and woman walking aimlessly. "I ignored everybody and ran to them. I was concerned," she said.
Fearing they may be in shock, she gently touched arms and such checking for broken bones. She never got a formal introduction before rescue crews whisked them away.
The helicopter operated by a California company and operated by Ocean Helicopters, a flight school working out of the North County Airport, was plucked out of Obradovich's yard overnight and taken away on a flatbed, she reports.
The pilot and passenger were taken to St. Mary's Medical Center. Neither the West Palm Beach police nor the Federal Aviation Administration have released their names. FAA investigators will report their findings regarding the crash to the National Transportation Safety Boar, which will eventually determine the likely cause of the crash, FAA spokeswoman Holly Baker said.
A woman answering the phone at the home of Ocean Helicopter's company president David Harmon in Jupiter said Harmon was out flying and would be unavailable to comment today.
Meanwhile, Obradovich spent the night away as workers restored power and removed the wreckage. She returned this afternoon.
"We're all safe and everything's fine. I just have to get the house fixed," Obradovich said. The home's roof and shingles were damaged, as was her front door.
A palm tree she's mothered since she moved there in 1988 stood at the corner of the house until the helicopter crash sliced through the trunk. But Obradovich is even optimistic about that.
The trunk of a palm can live for quite a while after the top is chopped off, she said. "It's a wonderful opportunity. It really does become a wonderful habitat for birds and such."
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