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Columbia Missourian

Helicopter crashes in Columbia field, pilot suffers minor injuries

By ALEX LANGE and BRITTANY BURNS
August 1, 2007 | 1:02 a.m. CDT
Helicopter crash Tuesday, July 31, 2007, in north Columbia.

COLUMBIA-A helicopter crashed into a grassy field in north Columbia on Tuesday afternoon.

The helicopter crashed while taking off around 1 p.m. Tuesday near a landing pad behind an office building at 2406 N. Stadium Blvd.

The pilot of the helicopter, its sole occupant, suffered minor injuries and was transported to Boone Hospital Center in a private car after the crash.

Linda Held, an interior designer at the neighboring Woodstone Design Gallery, said she has seen real estate developer Billy Sapp come and go in the helicopter and that she and other employees are used to hearing it land and take off.

Columbia police Capt. Zim Schwartze said police have questioned the pilot and suspect no wrongdoing.

“There’s no suspicion of anything criminal,” she said.

The wrecked helicopter’s underside was visible from the Panda Pals Pre-School across the street, where Rama Srivastava works as a teacher. She watched as the helicopter struggled to take off.

“It was taking off, it bumped down onto the ground, it made a little jump and then it hit again, did another jump a little higher, crashed down, and then I saw a fireball,” Srivastava said.

She said she saw the pilot climb out of the helicopter.

“The pilot was okay, he was walking well,” she said.

Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said there was no evidence of a fire at the scene. The fire department was still investigating Tuesday afternoon to find if the crash caused damage to the roof of a nearby house.

The Federal Aviation Administration was also investigating the crash.