A helicopter, while returning after dropping Bharatiya Janata party president Nitin Gadkari and his family at the Jolly Grant airport here on Sunday afternoon, crashed. The pilot and an engineer were injured and hospitalised.
Mr. Gadkari's family had chartered three private helicopters, including the one that crashed, to take them around the Char Dham shrines.
The chopper, while returning to the Sahasradhara helipad after dropping Mr. Gadkari's family, could be seen swaying dangerously over Dehra Dun before crashing into the tall trees on the periphery of Vigyan Vihar and the highly sensitive Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation in Ladpur area.
The tail section and one of the rotor blades were stuck in the trees, while the chopper fell to the ground.
A couple of youths ran towards the chopper after it the ground and showing extraordinary courage, rescued pilot Navin Vid and engineer Navneel, even as the engine was still running. The injured crew were rushed to the government hospital and then to a private hospital.
Officials said that the chopper, owned by Swajas Aviation Company, Chennai, was a stand-by that was chartered along with two more to carry Mr. Gadkari's family. This company, along with SAR Aviation Company, has been operating in Uttarakhand to ferry people to the Char Dham shrines over the past several weeks.
The Uttarakhand government has ordered a probe into the incident.
The debris of the chopper fell close to a residential area but there was no casualty, Dehra Dun SSP G.S. Martolia told PTI. “Vigyan Vihar residential area is only 10 feet away from the jungles. We believe that the pilot must have avoided this colony,” he said.
Meanwhile, State Civil Aviation Secretary P.C. Sharma said the government would conduct an enquiry into the crash. “We are conducting the enquiry to ascertain the exact cause of the accident. It appears that some technical snag must have caused the crash. But the main enquiry will be conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation,” he said.