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Helicopter crash at Gaston mill injures pilot

A helicopter crashed Thursday morning on Stimson Lumber Co. property near Henry Hagg Lake in Gaston after dropping mosquito-killing chemicals into the mill’s log ponds. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: KATE STRINGER - A Bell 47 helicopter was totaled and its pilot slightly injured after it went down Thursday morning on Stimson Lumber Co. property near Henry Hagg Lake in Gaston.

The pilot, Warren Larson, 31, of Cloverdale, Calif., sustained minor injuries to his head and his hand and was treated at the scene, said Sgt. Bob Ray of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WSCO).

Larson and another man who was on the ground at the time of the crash work for Western Helicopter Services in Newberg. The second man was not injured. Three other men — possibly Stimson employees — ran for cover and also were uninjured, Ray said.

The helicopter was “just taking off” around 8:10 a.m. when the accident occurred, Ray said. “As he got 20 feet up in the air, something went wrong,” he said. “The helicopter tipped over on its side and went down.”

Debris littered the mill property at 49800 S.W. Scoggins Valley Road and some of it smashed through one of the mill’s windows, said Dave Nemeyer, spokesman for Forest Grove Fire & Rescue. The debris field stretched more than 100 feet.

Fuel spilling from the helicopter was a concern, Nemeyer noted, due to its combustibility. “At this time we have that under control,” he said.

Larson was able to exit the helicopter, a 1969 Bell 47, out a side door. “This was literally the same model as in [the] ‘M.A.S.H.’” television series, Nemeyer said.

The aircraft was “completely shredded and twisted,” he added.

The Seattle and Hillsboro offices of the Federal Aviation Administration were notified of the crash and will investigate along with the sheriff's office, Nemeyer said.



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