FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are still working to figure out what caused a helicopter to fall from the sky and crash into the front yard of a Fresno home over the weekend.

Around 10:00 a.m. Saturday, officers from the Fresno Police Department were called out to the area of Willow and Garrett avenues after a survey helicopter crashed in a neighborhood.

When officers arrived, they found the pilot and a passenger suffering from minor injuries in a crashed Bell 206B helicopter on the front lawn of a home.

While the investigation is still in the preliminary stages, officials said the helicopter had lost control of its tail rotor leading up to the crash. The rotor on the back of the helicopter stabilizes the aircraft during flight.

Helicopter pilots we spoke with off camera say that’s what caused the aircraft to spiral.

Investigators said the helicopter was on a maintenance check flight when the crash took place. The helicopter hit a nearby home before crashing into a tree and coming to a rest on its left side in the yard.

“We see the helicopter spinning and I said what’s going on?” said Nora Curiel.

Curiel was one of the first people to call 911 after seeing the helicopter crash while driving with her husband.
More than 24 hours later, the crashed helicopter was finally taken away.

“I was so scared and I told my husband, oh my god, oh my god. Because he knows CPR, let’s see what’s going on and if they need CPR, he can do it for them,” said Curiel.

The pilot and passenger were seen walking around by neighbors after the crash – before being taken to the hospital.

“They are okay, they’re alive,” said Curiel.

Officials said a preliminary report with everything that has been learned about the crash so far is expected to be released three weeks after the incident.

The full investigation may take between 12 and 24 months to complete.