JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A helicopter crashed Saturday afternoon in an open field on Fort Caroline Road near the St. Johns River. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the pilot was able to walk away from the crash without injury.
The helicopter went down at about 2:30 p.m. in the St. Johns Landing Estates neighborhood, about halfway between the Dames Point Bridge and the Fort Caroline National Memorial.
Three teenagers fishing in the river at the time witnessed the crash.
"We didn't hear his engine anymore, and then we just saw a boom. I looked over and I saw something fly in the air," Tyler Reinhold said.
"It was crazy. We heard the engine cut off, and about a few seconds later, we heard the boom," Austin Prysock said. "We looked up and we saw the helicopter and, eventually, we decided lets pull up on the beach and go check it out. ... The cabin of that helicopter, I mean, it was crushed and the whole tail section of the helicopter flew off."
Prysock and his friends said they ran up to try to help, but the pilot told him he was OK and he had everything under control.
"I saw him get out. He was fine," Reinhold said. "I was surprised."
The chopper crashed just a few hundred feet away from homes on Reed Island Drive. Neighbors lined the property looking at the mangled helicopter, amazed to hear the pilot walked away uninjured.
"It looks like someone would definitely be hurt, so we are glad to hear that he is not," one neighbor said.
The pilot was still at the scene when News4Jax arrived, but he declined to be interviewed.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it would not be responding to the crash. By late afternoon, the wreckage was put on a flatbed tow truck and hauled away.
According to an FAA database, the Hughes 269A helicopter was built in 1964. It was most recently certified in April 2017.
Records show it is owned by Skypro Industries in Jacksonville. That business is listed as running out of a home off the Arlington Expressway.