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Reality TV chopper crashes near Pa. campus; 3 hurt
INDIANA, PA. (AP) - A helicopter carrying a reality television crew crashed near a university, injuring three of the four people aboard.
The helicopter went down between apartment buildings near the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Officials said no one on the ground was injured and no fatalities were reported.
IUP freshman Lauren Yates said she heard what sounded like an airplane "coming down real low."
"It kept getting lower and lower and spun a few times," Yates, of Harrison City in Westmoreland County, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper. "It landed on the roof and fell down and over on the cement."
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said Sunday that one of the three passengers, all Canadian citizens, walked away but the other two and the pilot were injured. The injured people were in serious or critical condition.
A spokeswoman for Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh confirmed that the pilot had been taken there but declined to release information about his condition.
University spokeswoman Michelle Fryling said the reality television show "Campus PD," which has no affiliation with the state-owned university, was working with borough police in the area.
"We are just so grateful that none of our students and none of our residents were injured," Fryling said.
The western Pennsylvania university, founded in 1875, has about 15,000 students. Two students told to leave a building as a precaution while authorities secured the scene after the helicopter crash had asked for temporary housing, Fryling said. The university's last day of classes was Friday, and most students are studying for finals, she said.
Peters identified the helicopter as a Robinson R44 owned by Penn Helicopter LLC, of Friedens, Pa. The company did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Mayor George Hood told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper that officials knew the crew had planned to use a helicopter but did not know when.
The Indiana Gazette newspaper reported Friday morning that the crew had been tagging along with borough officers responding to calls around town for the G4 channel show, which it said is filmed in the style of "COPS." Sgt. William Vojtek, who was serving as a liaison to the crew, said the department viewed the program as an opportunity to show the community the kind of problems that officers routinely deal with.
"It's good to show the job we actually do out here," he said.
Peters said the FAA aviation safety inspector who responded will investigate the crash for the National Transportation Safety Board. Officials planned to remove the wreckage of the helicopter Sunday, he said.
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