ERWINNA, Pa. (AP) — A fiery helicopter crash in Bucks County on Wednesday claimed the life of the pilot, a recently retired Pennsylvania state trooper.
The helicopter went down in the woods and caught fire shortly after takeoff around 6:30 a.m., when emergency dispatchers said callers reported hearing an explosion.
State Police identified the pilot as Cpl. Doug Brigham, a 24-year veteran who retired early last year. Authorities said he also was a decorated pilot, a member of the local fire company that responded to his crash and the Tinicum Township Department of Emergency Management, and a volunteer for Patient Airlift Services.
Brigham flew choppers for the state police and received a commendation from the county in 2010 for his assistance in a search for a missing person.
Neighbors said there was heavy fog in the area when Brigham's helicopter went down. The chopper was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived and was severely damaged in the crash.
Officials at the scene were trying to determine whether Brigham took off from a helipad on his property or from the Van Sant Airport about three miles away.
The helicopter went down just a few hundred feet from Brigham's home and he appeared to have been thrown from the chopper when it crashed, investigators said. There were no immediate reports of anyone else being aboard.
The crash site is near the Delaware River in the Erwinna section of Tinicum Township, about 50 miles north of Philadelphia and directly across the river from Frenchtown, N.J.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.