911 caller says "It did not come back up" on false alarm helicopter crash

VIDEO: Motorist told 911 she saw helicopter 'nosedive,' report was false alarm

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Authorities say the report they received of a helicopter crash in Charleston Harbor near the Ravenel Bridge is false.

Officials with Charleston County Rescue confirmed all aircrafts scheduled to be in the area have been accounted for.

"There was a helicopter that looked like it took off from Patriots Point," said the caller who contacted Charleston County Dispatch Thursday morning. "As I crested the top of the bridge it went down into the water."

The Charleston Fire Department's marine swept the area, but had found no evidence a crash had occurred, according to Charleston Fire spokesman Ryan Kunitzer.

"It had gone across the bridge and then the nose part, the body part of it, kind of was going down," the caller went on to say. "Of course I couldn't see down on that side, because there was oncoming traffic on that side. I waited but it did not come back up on either side."

The FAA showed a mosquito abatement chopper was scheduled to be in the area, but said that chopper is accounted for. There appears to be no problems with that chopper, he said.

A fisherman who spotted the chopper said it was flying low to the ground.

"He was flying really low, like tree level," a witness said.

Frank Carson, the Manager within the Mosquito Control Division, Charleston County Public Works said it is common procedure for choppers to make that kind of maneuver when flying.

"[When] they're landing near the bridge, they have to avoid the bridge and other obstructions, so they're going up and down fairly quickly," Carson said Thursday afternoon. "I've heard it said that somebody saw it disappear behind trees."

It is possible witnesses saw the low-flying chopper disappear behind trees and reported the possible crash, authorities say. The report of the possible crash came in at 8:51 a.m., according to dispatchers.

The Coast Guard confirmed it sent crews to investigate, along with other agencies, including Charleston and Mount Pleasant police, Charleston County deputies and Charleston County Rescue, according to dispatchers.

This isn't the first time drivers have called 911 about low flying planes and helicopters.

Many say it's a daily occurrence to see them around the Ravenel bridge.

"I've seen more private planes, that I guess are smaller, that seem super close," said Rachel Walden, a runner.

"The people have the helicopters touring the bridge, but I haven't seen any problems with it," said Ethan Reuckel another runner.

As for low flying planes in other areas of Charleston, some homeowners aren't too concerned.

"It hasn't been a distraction or disturbance for us at all," said Erin Groeber, of West Ashley." It's something that's just a part of our life and the kids like to look at the airplanes so that's okay."

Carson apologized Thursday regarding the division's flying technique.

He said it's not done to distract or worry people, but as a way to get around bridges and other obstructions while they're spraying.

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