FBI Seeks Suspect Who Stole, Crashed Helicopter

Suspect ran from the scene at Sacramento airport, authorities say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2023 12:09 PM CDT

The FBI is leading the hunt for a suspect in California who tried to steal a helicopter but may not have known how to fly one. Authorities say the suspect crashed the helicopter on the tarmac at Sacramento Executive Airport soon after starting the aircraft, the Los Angeles Times reports. KCRA reports that the Bell 429 heavy-lift helicopter ended up on its side with smashed rotors and a cracked tail boom after the attempted theft early Wednesday morning. Police say the suspect ran from the scene after the crash. Investigators believe the suspect tried to start three other helicopters before managing to get one going. There's no sign anybody was injured in the crash, police say.

Kevin Eakle, who works in a hangar next to the crash site, tells CBS that other aircraft were damaged by debris from the crash. "It was very dramatic," he says. "They're lucky they walked away and didn't kill anybody." FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Reagan says a person of interest has been identified from witness information and surveillance footage, but the motive is unknown, KCRA reports. "If someone wanted to take an aircraft for a joyride, someone who wanted to take an aircraft to do some other criminal activity or damage to other property, terrorism would be at the other end of the scope," Regan says. (More helicopter crash stories.)

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