SEATTLE - A news helicopter crashed Tuesday morning near the Space Needle in Seattle, killing both people inside the helicopter and critically injuring another who was in a vehicle on the ground, a spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department said.
The injured man, 37, freed himself from one of three vehicles that caught fire and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition with burns over 50 percent of his body, spokesman Kyle Moore, said.
A woman inside a second car was not injured and a man inside a third vehicle, a pickup truck, left the scene.
“We want to talk to him just to make sure he’s OK,” Moore said.
Moore said he didn’t know what led to the crash but it did not appear the leased helicopter hit any buildings.
“What we have left is basically just a part of the tail and burnt-out metal from the main chassis of the helicopter,” he said.
The crash was on Broad Street, near the Space Needle, he said.
Arriving firefighters found lines of blazing fuel in the street and thick, black smoke covering the area, with “wreckage strewn across the lawn along with wreckage across the street,” he said.
CNN affiliate KOMO said the helicopter crashed near its offices.
It was used by CNN affiliates KOMO and KING, according to KING’s website.
Rich Marriott, a meteorologist for KING, said weather did not appear to have contributed to the crash; visibility was clear and winds were calm, he said.
The chopper crashed at about 7:40 a.m., more than two hours before the Space Needle was to open but at a time when the area was abuzz with commuters en route to work.
Representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to help investigate the crash.