Police: 3 dead in helicopter crash in Brevard County

FOX 35 News at 6

- Police have confirmed that three people have died in a helicopter crash in Brevard County.   Authorities say the aircraft went down in the southwest area of Palm Bay on Tuesday afternoon, having departed from Melbourne International Airport. 

The scene of the crash is on Freeburg Avenue SW, between Sapodilla Road SW and Wingham Drive SW, where witnesses say the "older military-style aircraft" was flying low, before it crashed and became engulfed in flames. 

The helicopter has been identified as a Sikorsky S-61  It was operated by AAR Airlift Group. 

Witness Shawn Porter caught the moment right after the crash on video, as he was on his ATV with friends  at the Compound in Palm Bay. "We raced to it. We tried to get across that ditch. Soon as I touched the water I felt the heat and it was too hot," he said. 

Investigators said a public works employee happened to see the crash just after 1:30 p.m.  Lt. Mike Baneish of Palm Bay Police says, "She reported a helicopter go down and burst into flames.  She said it was hovering about 500 feet; it seemed to be coming down."

The names of the victims have not been released. 

AAR Airlift Group released this statement:

AAR Airlift Group, Inc., subsidiary of AAR Corp. (NYSE: AIR), confirmed that a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter, operating in the Melbourne/Palm Bay, Florida, area, was involved in an accident at approximately 13:40 local time.  There were three crew members and no passengers on board the aircraft at the time the accident occurred.  Company officials are working closely with local, state, and federal authorities to execute an emergency response effort.  AAR Airlift Group’s overriding concern at this time is for those on board the aircraft and their families.  We are coordinating and cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board and may not release any other information at this time.

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