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Monday, October 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Helicopter crashes into Wisconsin river, killing 1 man

A helicopter is removed from the Fox River in Oshkosh, Wis., on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (Doug Raflik / Associated Press)
A helicopter is removed from the Fox River in Oshkosh, Wis., on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (Doug Raflik / Associated Press)
Associated Press

OSHKOSH, Wis. – A helicopter hit power lines and plunged into the Fox River in eastern Wisconsin Saturday, killing one man.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office says the helicopter went down near the Wisconsin Street Bridge in Oshkosh, 94 miles north of Milwaukee after it hit the electrical wires.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s Capt. Lara Vendola-Messer said special equipment had to be brought in by Wisconsin Public Service to help remove the electrical lines from the water. Divers then entered the water and the helicopter was lifted to the surface Saturday evening. A photograph showed the frame collapsed and the tail broken.

The Oshkosh Northwestern later reported that the Winnebago County Coroner’s office confirmed one man died in the crash. His name was not released.

Gary Lemiesz, of Oshkosh, said that he watched as helicopter flew east over the Fox River before turning back and flying west. He said it struck the wires and part of the propeller broke off, after which “it hit hard and sunk.”

Oshkosh Fire Dept. Assistant Chief John Ziemer said boats did a surface search but did not find anyone in the water.

The crash happened on a busy weekend in the city. Increased boat traffic for an annual charity poker run – a poker tournament that includes various stops on the water – had to re-routed from the area. In addition, officials for a walleye tournament had to change their weigh-in destination.

Boat traffic on the river near the crash site was stopped for hours while authorities carried out the search.

It is the second helicopter crash in Wisconsin this year. Three people died in April when a medical helicopter crashed near Hazelhurst, in the northern part of the state.

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