California Helicopter Crash Kills Man on Ground

A gust of wind caused a helicopter to spiral out of control on Wednesday in a canyon area north of Los Angeles, killing a man on the ground, authorities said.

The crash left the helicopter broken in half. The debris was next to what appeared to be a fuel truck but there was no fire.

The helicopter was contracted by Southern California Edison to string power lines between poles in the area of Bouquet Canyon when a wind gust hit it shortly after 9:30 a.m., Los Angeles County fire Inspector Frank Garrido said.

"It was hovering above the ground. A gust of wind made the helicopter spiral," and the blade struck a man on the ground, Garrido said.

The pilot suffered minor injuries but refused to go to a hospital, Garrido added.

The identities of the victims were not immediately released.

Garrido said the Fire Department report stated the dead man was an Edison employee, but utility spokesman Steve Conroy said the victim was employed by the company operating the helicopter.

"It was not an Edison employee," he said.

The helicopter was owned by Swanson Group Aviation LLC of Grants Pass, Ore.

"We have no comment at this time," said a woman who answered the phone at company headquarters.

The helicopter was being used on a project to string new transmission lines to bring in power from wind farms in the Tehachapi Mountains area, Edison spokeswoman Gil Alexander said.

"It's a tragedy," he said of the accident.

The crash was not expected to interfere with the project, he added.