Massad Ayoob, firearms expert, was in helicopter that crashed in St. Lucie County on Saturday

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — A small helicopter that crashed Saturday in far western St. Lucie County was carrying an internationally known firearms expert who was hunting wild hogs from the air using a handgun.

Live Oak resident Massad Ayoob, 64, his hunting companion Jonathan Strayer, 46, and pilot William Harward, 55, were above the tree tops, at about 100 feet, when the Hiller helicopter lost power and plunged to the ground around 9:15 a.m. Saturday, Ayoob said Monday.

"A few minutes into the flight, as we were zoning in on an oinker that had run under the canopy of some tall pines, the engine lost power," he said.

The helicopter's main rotor hit the trees, shattering the blades, said Ayoob. His home of Live Oak is east of Tallahassee in Suwannee County.

Ayoob, Strayer and Harward walked away — with cuts, bruises and some bleeding — and used a cellphone to call for help.

Ayoob is a widely known firearms and self-defense expert who heads up the Lethal Force Institute in New Hampshire. He has written books and articles on such things as combat techniques and firearms.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

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