3 Dead, 3 Injured in California Chopper Crash

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A helicopter crashed in rainy weather Saturday morning on Santa Catalina Island, killing three people and injuring three others, authorities said.

The helicopter went down shortly before 9:25 a.m. on the west end of the island and caused a small fire that was quickly doused, said the Los Angeles County fire dispatcher, who declined to give his name.

The crash killed three people and injured three others, county sheriff's Deputy Denise Fuchs said.

Helicopters airlifted three injured to mainland hospitals. County Supervising Fire Dispatcher Melanie Flores said their condition at time of transport was critical, and they would require treatment for broken bones among other injuries.

The chopper was a private tour aircraft from Island Express, Deputy Chuck Upton said.

A woman who answered the company's telephone said the owner had gone to the scene of the crash. She declined to give her name and other details.

The crash occurred on the opposite end of the island from the town of Avalon and not far from the Banning House lodge.

It was unclear whether the helicopter was taking anyone to the lodge, which overlooks Isthmus Cove, a popular boating spot.

A woman who answered the phone at the lodge confirmed reports that the chopper's engine appeared to quit while it was flying over the cove, crashing about 200 to 300 yards inland in grass. The woman declined provide other details.

An Island Express sightseeing helicopter made a hard landing on the island in December 1999, slightly injuring six tourists.