Pilot of Downed Helicopter Unscathed

, Posted: Mon, October 8 2012 at 6:36 PM, Updated: Mon, October 8 2012 at 7:37 PM

Debris still litters the area near Shady Cove where a helicopter crashed in a secluded spot in the Dry Creek area near Shady Cove.

The crash site is about a mile hike into a wooded area.

Cody Seeger, a helicopter pilot contracted by the Oregon Department of Forestry had a close brush with death Sunday afternoon when his helicopter went down while responding to two nearby fires.

"He looked pretty good. He said he was ok, he said he didn't hit that hard because surprisingly as he was going down he hit some trees first which took some of the impact and then flipped to it side and probably slowed the impact down," said Jeff McGrath, a deputy with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Officials said the pilot's flight trajectory was due north. Downed trees littered the ground and a water bucket was still caught in a tree when NBC 5 arrived on scene Monday afternoon.

At this point, officials said they are leaning toward engine failure as the cause.               

Authorities said the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating.

"It's a constant concern of ours, but firefighting is a dangerous occupation," said Brian Ballou with the Oregon Department of Forestry.

In 2008, seven local firefighters died in a crash while fighting the Iron 44 fire in Northern California. 

"Most days of the week everything works just fine,"

"We contract with companies that have a track record [...] These guys are monkey-wrenching their helicopters almost every day," continued Ballou.

While helicopter firefighting accidents are few and far between, it's fortunate this time the pilot walked away safely from a situation that could have been much worse.

Officials said the contractor involved was the Columbia Basin Helicopter Company.

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