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Pilot uninjured in helicopter crash at Pinellas County salvage yard

LEALMAN — A small helicopter crashed into a fence Tuesday night at a salvage yard in the 3600 block of 45th Avenue N.

The crash occurred about 6:50 p.m. as the pilot, Wayne Parker, was taking off in the Hughes 300 two-seater helicopter from a field in the salvage yard, fire officials said. Parker noticed a problem with the tail rotor just before he crashed.

When rescue personnel arrived, they found Parker, the aircraft's lone occupant, standing outside the helicopter. He was not injured.

Pinellas County sheriff's deputies secured the scene of the crash while waiting for officials from the Federal Aviation Administration to arrive. The National Transportation Safety Board will also conduct an investigation.

"My guess is the blades hit the fence, but that's not his story," said Lealman Fire District Capt. Jim Millican.

Parker, 60, has the helicopter for his personal use and regularly parks it at the salvage yard, authorities said. He is the owner of A-1 Key & Safe on 54th Avenue N, authorities said.

Fire officials said Parker told them he did not wish to speak with the media Tuesday evening.