PHOENIX – A helicopter crash just north of Phoenix killed at least three people on Sunday afternoon, including a child, and officials couldn't rule out the possibility of more victims.
Residents in the area known as Cave Creek heard noises and saw parts flying off the 6-seat helicopter before it crashed and burst into flames at about 3 p.m. MST.
"I saw the helicopter flying in the air and that stuff that goes round, up, the rotors were coming apart and then I said, 'OK something wrong is gonna happen,"' witness Nicoleta Nork told KTVK-TV. "And I just saw it rolling, rolling and boom, then big smoke and yeah, terrible."
Authorities have specifically identified three victims, said Deputy Lindsey Smith, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. But since the Eurocopter EC135 can hold six people, officials are looking into whether there were additional victims.
The area is a mix of rolling hills, dry desert washes and lots of houses. The chopper came down in a wash between two homes, Smith said.
"It's a pretty horrific crash," she said. "It's just obliterated."
The debris scattered over hundreds of feet, and deputies were contacting nearby residents to make sure none were hurt and that all the debris was collected for use by investigators. No injuries on the ground were immediately reported.
The helicopter was registered to Services Group of America in Scottsdale, Ariz., a large privately held foodservice and real estate firm. A company spokesman said he didn't immediately have any information about the crash.
Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration were headed to the crash scene, spokesman Ian Gregor said, and a National Transportation Safety Board investigator was expected to arrive on Monday morning.