2 killed as KOMO News helicopter crashes beside Space Needle

2 killed as KOMO News helicopter crashes beside Space Needle »Play Video
(Photo: KOMO News)
SEATTLE - Two people were killed and one was critically injured when the KOMO News helicopter crashed and burned on takeoff Tuesday morning on Broad Street only yards away from the Space Needle.

Emergency personnel immediately rushed to the scene.

Three vehicles were struck in the crash.

Witnesses said a man could be seen running from from one car with his clothing on fire, and he was extinguished by officers at the scene. He was then rushed to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition with burns over more than 50 percent of his body.

Huge flames and plumes of black smoke poured from the burning wreckage, about 50 yards from the base of the Space Needle. Fuel gushing from the wreckage caught fire and burned for a block from the crash scene.

The Seattle Fire Department said two people were found dead in the wreckage.

Witnesses said the helicopter crashed as it was taking off from the helipad on the roof of Fisher Plaza, across the street from the Space Needle.

"It looked like the helicopter was trying to take off, and it just was trying to stabilize and it looked odd ... and it just took a nose dive right down there on the street," said one eyewitness. "And the scary thing about was the gas from the helicopter started leaking and it caught a car or two on fire - so it's crazy."

Another eyewitness, Brian Cruz, said he saw the chopper in trouble in the air near the helipad.

"It looked like it got hung up on some cables, and before you know it - boom! - it dropped dropped to the street," he said.

Chris McOlgan was in a car just behind the crash.

"It just blew up instantly," McOlgan said. "Nothing could have been done."

Fire crews were able to extinguish the flames within a half-hour. Traffic was diverted from the area.

An investigation is under way.

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This is a developing news story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.