Helicopter crashes near New Smyrna Beach

- A helicopter flying an aerial spraying mission for Volusia County Mosquito Control crashed Thursday afternoon in a wooded area west of New Smyrna Beach, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office. The pilot was injured and taken to the hospital for treatment.  Deputies were notified of the crash at 3:30 p.m.

According to initial reports, the helicopter -- a 1989 McDonnell Douglas rotorcraft -- crashed into a densely wooded area near S.R. 44 west of Interstate 95 on property owned by Kirkland Sod. The pilot reportedly was bleeding, but conscious. Sheriff's Office and New Smyrna Beach units rushed to the scene and searched in the woods while a Sheriff's Office helicopter searched from the sky.

The Sheriff's helicopter located the crash site shortly after 4 p.m. and landed nearby in an open field and then loaded the pilot, Brian Hayes, 43, onto the helicopter and brought him out to awaiting paramedics. Hayes was transported by county ambulance to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach for treatment of his non-life-threatening injuries.

Hayes, Volusia County Mosquito Control's chief pilot, has been with Volusia County since March.  He is an experienced helicopter pilot having flown Black Hawks during his 20 years with the U.S. Army, according to Volusia County Mosquito Control Director Jim McNelly.  He was flying a larvacide mission when the helicopter went down. The nature of the crash is not known. The helicopter is the older of two helicopters in Mosquito Control's fleet. 
The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified of the crash and will be responsible for investigating the cause.
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