A helicopter belonging to the multi-agency Metro Narcotics Task Force based in Columbus crashed into the Coosa River in central Alabama after striking power lines Friday, authorities said.
“At about 12:30 today we received a call that the Metro Narcotics Task Force helicopter was flying to Clanton, Ala., and we believe hit a power line that stretched across the Coosa River between Coosa and Chilton counties,” officials said in a statement Friday evening from the Russell County Sheriff’s Office. “The helicopter was in route to Clanton, Ala., for routine maintenance and repair.”
The narcotics task force includes Columbus and Phenix City police, and Russell County, Muscogee County and Harris County sheriff’s investigators.
Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren and other law enforcement leaders overseeing the task force were on the scene. Boren said search and recovery efforts were under way, with divers trying to reach the submerged aircraft.
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According to Birmingham CBS affiliate WIAT, the crash occurred near Cargile Creek on Lake Mitchell outside Verbena, off Interstate 65 north of Montgomery.
The Chilton County Sheriff’s Office posted this statement to its Facebook page Friday afternoon:
“We are investigating a helicopter crash on the Coosa River near Cargile Creek. The crash involved a law enforcement aircraft from Georgia. There are no signs of survivors. Recovery efforts are ongoing. This is a massive team effort with many federal, state, and county agencies on scene and responding. Boaters are asked to avoid that area of the River. Motorists are asked to avoid County Roads 542 and 553 to allow recovery efforts to continue without delay!”
The Federal Aviation Administration issued this statement:
“A Bell OH-58 helicopter crashed into a river today about 12:15 p.m. (CST) near Clanton, Ala. The number of people on board is unknown at this time.... The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will determine the probable cause of the accident.”