1 dead, 2 pilots injured in PNP chopper crash

A helicopter owned by the Philippine National Police (PNP) crashed in Quezon province on Monday morning, killing a crew and injuring the two pilots.

Injured were the chopper’s pilot, Lt. Col. Dexter Vitug, and his co-pilot, Lt. Col. Michael Melloria, while a crew member identified as Pat. Allen Noel Ona was killed in the crash.

The single-engine Airbus H125 helicopter was supposed to pick up PNP Chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos and his family in the exclusive resort island of Balesin in Quezon.

Police officials said the chopper went missing a few minutes after taking off from Manila early Monday morning but was found to have crashed two hours later in Real, Quezon.

Police personnel and firefighters who rushed to the crash site in Barangay Pandan were able to rescue Vitug and Melloria and brought them to a private hospital in Infanta, Quezon. Ona was reportedly pinned down in the wreckage and died while rescuers were trying to revive him.

Col. Jean Fajardo, spokesperson for the PNP, said the police chief was supposed to fly back to Manila from Quezon via a commercial flight but the flight became unavailable.

“The chopper is on administrative flight to fetch the Chief PNP because he is supposed to attend the flag-raising in Camp Crame. The commercial flight that he was supposed to take was not available so our air unit volunteered to pick him up. There are two choppers reserved for the Chief PNP so one of them flew to pick him up to bring him to Camp Crame so he could attend the flag-raising. Nobody wanted the accident to happen,” Fajardo said.

She claimed that the PNP chief was in Balesin since Sunday via a chartered flight to have some private time with his family.

According to Fajardo, one of the injured pilots told Carlos when he visited them at the hospital that they were maneuvering to land in clear weather when a strong gust of wind suddenly lashed at them, causing the helicopter to lose control.

Because of the crash, PNP officials had ordered for the grounding of five other H125 helicopters while investigation is ongoing.

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