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Helicopter crashes into cherry orchard between George and Royal City

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Helicopter crashes into cherry orchard between George and Royal City

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June 24, 2013

(Grant County, WA) A 31-year-old Tumwater man is hospitalized after the helicopter he was piloting crashed this morning into a cherry orchard in west central Grant County.

Christopher Iezzoni was flying a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter around 7:45 a.m. today over an orchard near County Roads 9 and M-Southwest, between Royal City and George. His helicopter became tangled in bird control netting over the orchard and crashed. Iezzoni extricated himself from the wreckage. He suffered back injuries and difficulty breathing and was taken by ambulance to Quincy Valley Medical Center.

Helicopter rotor wash is often used to blow water off of cherries in an effort to keep the fruit from splitting open after rainfall.

“I’m relieved the pilot was not seriously injured,” said Sheriff Tom Jones. “This incident certainly could have had a much worse outcome, and I wish the pilot a quick recovery.”

The helicopter suffered extensive damage. The FAA is investigating.

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