Helicopter Crash near Seattle’s Space Needle

March 18 2014

(CNN) — It was the sound of the engine that alerted some people who were in Seattle’s Fisher Plaza Tuesday morning that something was amiss.

At about 7:40 a.m., Bo Bain was a few feet from the famed Space Needle that towers over the northern end of the city when he heard sounds he has grown accustomed to hearing during his work in the tourist district on a construction project.

“We were working here on the corner and the helicopter came in and landed, as he usually does several times a day,” Bain told CNN affiliate KOMO.

The pilot put the news helicopter down on a landing pad outside KOMO’s offices “for a minute or two,” and then tried to rise again into the air, Bain said. That’s when the routine engine noises changed abruptly, and Bain knew something was up.

“When he went to take back off, the sound of the helicopter changed kind of drastically, and I looked and the helicopter was almost immediately pitched sideways and off balance, and he kind of just nose-dove over the trees, and clipped the top of the trees and crashed just on the other side of the street there.”

As soon as it hit the ground, the helicopter burst into flames and a line of aviation fuel started running down Broad Street. It was more than two hours before the Space Needle was to open but at a time when the area was abuzz with commuters en route to work. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offices are about a quarter-mile away.

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