Charleston Co. Sheriff’s chief pilot injured in helicopter crash at airport
Commercial flights were suspended at Charleston International Airport
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A pilot for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office suffered injuries Tuesday afternoon when his helicopter crashed at the Charleston International Airport.
Sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Knapp said the crash happened at 3:30 p.m. as the pilot was returning from scheduled maintenance in Sumter County. The sheriff’s office’s chief pilot, Lt. Scott Martray, reported some type of malfunction in the helicopter shortly before the crash. Knapp said he did not have details on the nature of the malfunction.
He said Martray, who has been with the agency since 2006, suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the crash. He was the only person aboard the chopper when it crashed.
“Our deputies encounter dangers daily and rely on their training to safely guide them through those challenges,” Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano said in a release. “Our pilots are no different. We respect and appreciate Scott’s expertise that allowed him to bring the helicopter down while minimizing damage on the ground and injury to himself. We will continue to support him and his family through his recovery. We will also support the investigation to determine what caused the malfunction.”
“He’s being treated at MUSC. He’s in good spirits and he’s going to recover, fortunately,” Knapp said.
He said the National Transportation Safety Board has been called in to investigate the circumstances of the crash, calling the damage to the helicopter “severe.” He said there was no word on whether the helicopter, which is the only one the sheriff’s office has, is salvageable.
He said experience is a requirement for a pilot at the sheriff’s office.
“Our pilots are very well trained. They have to come to our agency with experience and so they have a lot of knowledge of helicopters and so they know how to fly,” he said.
The sheriff’s office has owned the chopper for about five years with the aircraft costing about $3.4 million. He said the sheriff’s office routinely conducts patrols over the county by helicopter.
“It’s been a very effective helicopter. We’ve used it on a lot of missions and you know, it’s been very effective for us,” Knapp said.
The airport temporarily suspended commercial flights Tuesday afternoon after the crash, saying in a social media post that flights were temporarily suspended because of “an ongoing incident” but did not elaborate.
Travelers and people who were waiting on family members to arrive at the airport said they were confused and waiting for answers.
“It’s a little surprising; I fly all the time, and I fly all over the world, and I’ve never seen anything like this in Charleston,” Zane Segull said while he was waiting for loved ones at the airport. “This is definitely new and surprising.”
William Carter’s flight was supposed to land in Charleston but the plane circled over the city due to the crash. He shared what thoughts raced through his head.
“We’re never gonna make it,” Carter said. “We’re never gonna land but I hope he’s alright.”
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