Cops critical after chopper crash

2008-07-04 12:02

Johannesburg - A police helicopter pilot and his crew are in a critical condition after their helicopter crashed while pursuing armed robbers on Friday morning, police say.

The police helicopter is believed to have hit a high-voltage power line, sending it plummeting into an open field in Meadowlands, Soweto, according to Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesperson Percy Morokane.

The three officers on board were stabilised at the scene before being airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital.

Hospital spokesperson, Amanda Swart, told News24 that the three men arrived at 10:00 and it was too early to determine the extent of their injuries. "They will be admitted to the trauma intensive care unit."

They were all in a critical but stable condition.

South African Police Service spokesperson Director Sally de Beer said the helicopter was taking part in the pursuit of two armed robbers at about 08:30 on Friday morning.

The two had robbed a woman on the streets of Florida, Roodepoort, and were fleeing on foot, pursued by the Roodepoort Dog Unit and police vehicles.

The helicopter joined the chase and crashed in a veld behind a mine dump near Lekankagata street in Meadowlands, according to Netcare 911 spokesperson, Nick Dollman.

Speaking to News24 from the scene, De Beer said the power cables were probably the cause of the accident, but a proper investigation into the matter was still to take place.

The armed robbers were still at large.