SANTA FE, N.M. – Rescuers found a state police patrolman suffering from extreme hypothermia Wednesday after his helicopter crashed into a snowy mountain in northern New Mexico, and officials feared that the two others aboard didn't survive.
"At this point, information would indicate that we do not have any more survivors," State Police Chief Faron Segotta said.
He said information about the others came from 29-year-old officer Wesley Cox, who was taken to a Santa Fe hospital and is "extremely hypothermic." Cox was the spotter on the helicopter, which was picking up a lost hiker.
The pilot, Sgt. Andrew Tingwall of Santa Fe, radioed in his last radio transmission Tuesday night that he had hit the mountain.
Segotta said three campers near Lake Katherine saw the helicopter take off and fly around the north side of Baldy, then heard its rotors rev to a high pitch. They then saw a flash of light and heard a crash, he said.
Segotta said a National Guard aerial crew was trying to locate the crash site. Officials said earlier that searchers had been hampered by snow and poor visibility near the area, which is about 15 miles northeast of Santa Fe.
The helicopter was believed to be eight or nine miles from the start of the trail and its emergency beacon signal was still emitting, state Department of Public Safety spokesman Peter Olson said.
He said that when a dispatcher asked Tingwall whether the three aboard were all right, the pilot responded: "Not really."
Segotta had said the helicopter carried food, water and emergency blanket and that Tingwall was prepared.
"Our pilots are trained for survival," he said.
The helicopter is specially equipped for high altitude search and rescue missions, including landing and taking off at up to 15,000 feet and flying up to 20,000 feet, said state Public Safety Secretary John Denko. It was purchased in 2003.
Olson said the hiker, Negumi Yamamoto, was with her boyfriend on the mountain but they became separated, and she used her cell phone to call for help Tuesday evening.
Olson, who has hiked Santa Fe Baldy, said the trip to the top is arduous and said the area where the helicopter was believed to be was in "very rugged terrain."