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UPDATE: Acton chopper crash described as "horrific"

Posted: February 10, 2013 1:40 p.m.
Updated: February 10, 2013 3:57 p.m.

Three people are confirmed dead following a “horrific” helicopter crash of a reality TV crew filming in the hills west of Acton early Sunday, according to federal and local investigators.

About 3:40 a.m. Sunday, paramedics with the Los Angeles County Fire Department were dispatched to the Polsa Rosa Ranch on Soledad Canyon Road between Acton and Agua Dulce, said Fire Department Inspector Al Jackson.

Paramedics arrived in the filming location’s rugged terrain at 4:02 a.m., he said. No one was transported to the hospital.

“The report from the scene was a helicopter crash with three fatalities,” he said.

A Palmdale Sheriff’s Station deputy who was on the scene Sunday morning described carnage spread over a wide area in the hills south of Soledad Canyon Road.

“It’s such a horrific scene out there,” she said.

The ranch, a 730-acre spread in the 5700 block of Soledad Canyon Road at the foot of the Angeles National Forest, bills itself as offering the “most widely varied terrains and landscapes” within Hollywood’s 30-mile zone, featuring jungles and forests, miles of roads through all terrains, a performance driving mudpit, junkyard and “car crash cliffs.”

Security guards stopped reporters on Soledad Canyon Road at the ranch entrance Sunday morning. The entrance was marked with a yellow TV production sign that read “Bongo” directing cast and crew into the ranch.

Deputy Chad Rogers of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station told reporters at the ranch’s entrance that all official word about the crash and its investigation are to come from the National Transportation Safety Board.

“The NTSB investigators will probably be there at least five hours,” Rogers said around 11:30 a.m.

A spokesman for the NTSB confirmed that the safety board had one investigator at the crash site who had released no information.

“We were told there were three persons on board,” NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said of the helicopter.

“But we won’t know for sure until our investigator gets back to us,” he said. “We’re beginning to examine the site and collect data.”

Television footage showed mangled wreckage in a rugged canyon area.

The helicopter, identified by photographers using long lenses as a Bell 206B chopper, was hired for the filming of an independent reality TV show when the crash happened, according to a television news crew that had been on the scene since 5 a.m.

The crew had been working on an overnight filming permit issued by Film L.A., a city of Santa Clarita spokeswoman said.

Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office investigators arrived at the scene shortly after 10 a.m., said coroner’s Lt. Cheryl MacWillie.

Under sunny skies, as a rooster crowed near the crash site, investigators with the coroner’s office joined other emergency crews on the ranch’s rolling hills.

The coroner's investigators began removing bodies about 10:30 a.m., one sheriff’s deputy said.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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