Pilot Identified In West Windsor Helicopter Crash [PHOTOS]
A retired New York City police officer has been identified as the pilot of a small helicopter that
crashed in a West Windsor cornfield on Saturday.
Michael Scarfia, 65, of Staten Island was identified by West Windsor police as the pilot of a helicopter that went down shortly after noon in West Windsor just off Route 1 on Quakerbridge Road. Scarfia apparently was the only person aboard.
FULL COVERAGE: West Windsor Helicopter Crash
The aircraft burst into flames upon impact, but no one on the ground was injured, authorities said. The FAA and NTSB continue their investigation on Sunday.
“Scarfia dedicated his life to the city of New York as a police officer, and by diverting his failing helicopter into the cornfield and away from the crowded shopping malls, he again showed his bravery and dedication to others.” West Windsor police Lt. Robert Garofalo said in a news release.
Scarfia on the NYPD from 1973 to 1986, based in Brooklyn Lt. John Grimpel, a department spokesman told the Star Ledger. He was not involved with aviation during his time.
It was not immediately clear what caused the accident. Garofalo said several people reported that a flock of birds appeared to make contact with the helicopter shortly before it crashed.
“Eyewitnesses said they saw pieces of (the helicopter) coming apart, including the main rotor of the helicopter itself,” Garofalo said during an earlier news conference held near the crash
Several witnesses also reported hearing grinding noises and possible explosions shortly before the helicopter went down in the field near Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road in the Mercer County
Authorities said the pilot did not report any trouble or make any emergency transmissions.
NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Bob Gretz said at a Saturday night press conference one of the helipcoter’s rotar blades is missing and asked anyone who discovers it to contact West Windsor Police reports WPVI TV.
Gretz noted a “strong smell of fuel at the scene” and said the investigation into the crash could last up to a year.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the craft was a Eurocopter AS355, twin-engine, light helicopter according to the Star Ledger. It was registered to Fortress Investment Group, a multinational investment company with offices in New York. According to the Eurocopter website, it is a helicopter used by the Massachusetts State Police.
The Associated Press contributed to this story