Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home

Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
Published Sept. 26, 2017

ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

The crash happened about 5:30 p.m. at 9450 Roberts Road.

The pilot, Bradley John Bates, 51, of 10207 Lake Grove Drive, called 911 after the crash, Hillsborough Fire Rescue officials said. He was the only person onboard.

"The pilot was then brought out of the aircraft, put on a backboard and taken to a local area hospital as a trauma alert," said Hillsborough Fire Rescue spokesman Corey Dierdorff. "There was significant damage done to the roof of this home. Thankfully no one was home."

Bates had injuries that authorities described as life threatening. He was taken to the emergency room at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

No one was in the house at the time of the crash. A dog inside, Nala, was uninjured.

Photos from the scene depict the small aircraft, its windows cracked, resting on its side in the middle of a depression in the roof. Fire Rescue officials said the helicopter bore the word "Experimental" on the side.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said the aircraft appeared to have been homemade from a kit.

She said it would remain on the roof until the National Transportation Safety Board decides to remove it. The NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration were both called to investigate. Electrical service was disconnected as a precaution.

The house sits a few yards behind another home off the rural street near Keystone Lake in northwest Hillsborough.

Neighbor Tim Peterson said he and his wife, Laurie, were in their kitchen about to eat dinner when they heard a whirring noise.

"I heard a propeller sound and then a sudden boom," Peterson said. "I looked at my wife and said, 'Honey, what was that?'"

Through a window, Peterson could see a helicopter blade hanging off the roof of the neighboring house. He called 911.

Another neighbor, a nurse who happened to be walking a dog at the time, managed to scale the house and tend to the man, Peterson said. From the ground, he could hear him moaning.

Peterson didn't recognize the man. But he said it isn't unusual for people to fly small helicopters and other aircraft in the area.