3 injured in helicopter crash in rural Douglas County

3 injured in helicopter crash in rural Douglas County »Play Video
A 1976 Bell Jet Ranger helicopter sits in the South Umpqua River after crashing near Days Creek on Monday.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- Three people were taken to the hospital after a helicopter crashed into a river in rural Douglas County Monday morning.

Emergency crews were notified of the crash before noon, as reports came in of a helicopter that had crashed in the South Umpqua River in the 13000 block of Tiller Trail Highway.

Two Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employees were on-board with the pilot when the helicopter crashed.

Eric Himmelreich, 35, broke two vertebrae in the crash. Holly Huchko, 34, suffered a broken back. They were both taken to Mercy Medical Center for treatment.

The adult male pilot was flown to Sacred Heart at RiverBend in Springfield by a LifeFlight helicopter. His condition is still unknown, officials said.

Milo resident Jerry Bonney says he helped at the scene when he saw the helicopter in the water. 

"I looked over the bank and there was a helicopter and three people hanging on it in the river, and I got out to help flag," he said.

The South Umpqua Steep Angle Rescue Team was called out to assist in getting the people to the road.

A hazardous materials team also responded to the accident site to try and contain fuel that was leaking from the aircraft.

Pacific Power was also notified that some powerlines were down as a result of the crash.

According to the FAA website, the tail number on the helicopter is registered to a 1976 Bell helicopter owned by Robert Ferriera out of Ashland. The website also lists Siskiyou Transportation Inc. and Timberland Helicopters Inc. as other owner names.

Authorities say the FAA and NTSB have been notified about the crash.

Both Huchko and Himmelreich are biologists that work out of the Roseburg office for the Umpqua Fish District. Huchko is an assistant district fisheries biologist and has been with the department 10 years. Himmelreich has been with ODFW as a fisheries habitat biologist for just over one year. 


This is a developing story and will be updated.