Investigation: Load Hit Ground before Copter Crash

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CORTEZ, Colo. (AP) -- Investigators say a Montana-based helicopter that crashed in Colorado, killing the pilot, was carrying a load suspended from a cable, and the load struck the ground just before the aircraft plummeted to earth.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board dated Monday says the helicopter overshot the intended drop site when the load hit the ground.

The helicopter crashed July 16 in southwestern Colorado. County officials identified the pilot as AJ Blain of Billings, Mont. Officials say the helicopter was owned by Billings Flying Service.

The NTSB says the cable detached from the helicopter after the load hit the ground. The report says the helicopter then began a series of abrupt maneuvers and crashed while banking steeply to the left.

The report didn't list the cause.