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Three dead, two injured after helicopter crashes into California home

Four people were aboard the Robinson R44 helicopter when it went down.

Helicopter Crash Police investigate the scene where three people were killed and two others injured Source: Allen J. Schaben via Los Angeles Times/AP

THREE PEOPLE HAVE been killed and two have been injured after a helicopter crashed into a house in a suburban Southern California neighbourhood just a few minutes after taking off, officials said.

The helicopter crashed into the house with such force that it was left barely recognisable. The crushed metal sat in a heap on the side of the house, its tail rotor sticking out of the roof of a nearby home and a 6-foot chunk landing in the street in front of yet another house.

“All of a sudden the house just shook and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re having an earthquake’” said Marian Michaels, who lives behind the home in a gated community in Newport Beach where the helicopter crashed.

Roger Johnson was doing some woodwork when he heard the chopping sound of a helicopter’s rotating blades and then a tremendous boom across the street.

“I turned to look out of the garage and that’s when I see this piece of metal flying through the air and hitting a bush and garage door,” Johnson said.

“Then I heard someone scream — a real horror scream, like something terrible had happened.”

Johnson rushed to the wreckage and cautioned people to stop trying to pull out or move victims.

Helicopter Crash Source: KABC-TV via AP

Deaths

Four people were aboard the Robinson R44 helicopter when it went down.

All four were among those killed or injured, and one person who was on the ground but outside of the house was also injured, Newport Beach fire and police officials said. They did not say which was which or give any specifics about the injuries.

Audrey Ellis, who lives next to the house where the crash happened, was not home at the time but said her neighbours told her they were in the kitchen when the helicopter hit the bedroom of their house.

“It’s so scary,” Ellis said, adding that her neighbours weren’t hurt.

“I’m so thankful.”

Helicopter Crash Crews clean up near where a helicopter crashed into a house in Newport Beach Source: AP

The aircraft had taken off from John Wayne Airport, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport is about 1.6 kilometres from the crash site.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Messages seeking comment from Revolution Aviation, which is based at the airport and operated the helicopter, were not immediately returned.

The company offers helicopter and airplane classes, the use of aircraft for photography and video production as well as sightseeing flights.

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