1 dead, 1 seriously injured following helicopter crash

December 2, 2012

LEAVITT TWP. (Oceana Co) — Thomas Slocum, 49, of Hart died Saturday following a helicopter crash in the Manistee National Forest. Matt Williams, 28, also from Hart, was airlifted to a Grand Rapids hospital.

According to an Oceana County Sheriff’s Office press release, Slocum was flying his privately owned 1955 Bell Rotorcraft helicopter with Williams when it crashed in an area known as Tanner’s Swamp, located in the Manistee National Forest.

Mlive.com reports that the men had taken off from a local farm.

Williams called 911 from his cell phone following the crash, according to the release. The coordinates from the phone’s GPS helped rescuers find the crash site, Mlive reported. But, the area was not accessible by vehicle.

Personnel from Oceana County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service and Walkerville, Hart and Pentwater fire departments responded to the scene. Helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard and AeroMed also responded to the site located about two miles from the 168th Avenue.

The site was located about 4:17 p.m. The helicopter was partially in the swamp. “The helicopter was completely smashed… It obviously had a hard impact,” Oceana County Sheriff Lt. Craig Mast told Mlive, adding Williams was “pretty incoherent” and was suffering from shock due to his injuries.

Slocum was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the release.

Rescuers were only able to get within 1,000 feet of the site by all-terrain vehicle. The two victims had to be carried the remainder of the distance. Because of the terrain, the Coast Guard helicopter could not use its rescue basket, the press release stated.

Williams was transported by AeroMed to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.

The accident remains under investigation.


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