Three Released From Hospital After Helicopter Crash

A helicopter was heavily damaged in a crash in rural Colorado Tuesday, but the three people on board escaped without serious injuries.

Authorities say the pilot and passengers were all released from the hospital within hours of the crash.

First responders raced to find the crash site after the Otero County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about a downed helicopter south of La Junta. The helicopter was found three miles south of County Road AA and County Road 33.

The three on board were extricated from the helicopter and transported to Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

The helicopter is a 1982 Bell leased to SAM, Inc., which is a surveying and aerial mapping company based out of Irving, Texas. Those on board are employees of that company, and were taking aerial photos and surveying the area for a private project.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now taking the lead on the crash investigation, but there is already some speculation as to why the helicopter crashed. The pilot reported a possible problem with the tail roter, which forced the helicopter to spin into the ground.

This is the first time in the history of the company that SAM, Inc. has had a crash. Bob Houston, a spokesman with SAM, Inc., says they are a small company where a lot of employees know each other, so their first concern is the safety of the three people on board.

A photo of the aircraft, a Bell 206L-1 helicopter, that based near SAM, Inc. headquarters in Austin, Texas.