A news helicopter belonging to Seattle’s ABC affiliate station, KOMO, crashed a short distance from the Space Needle early on Tuesday (March 18). Two people aboard the aircraft were killed, while at least one person on the ground received serious injuries.

The helicopter itself was almost completely destroyed.

Occurring about 7:40 a.m., the helicopter had just taken off from the roof of the KOMO headquarters when witnesses saw it pause — possibly caught in cables — before diving almost directly down to Broad Street below. An explosion, likely caused by the helicopter’s fuel, followed almost immediately.

Of the three cars directly impacted, two saw drivers walked away with little to no injuries. A third driver, seen leaving his vehicle with his clothes on fire, was burned across 50 percent of his body and is in critical condition at a nearby hospital (according to KOMO News).

About three hours after the crash, the KOMO Twitter feed identified one of the dead in the helicopter is Bill Strothman, an Emmy-winning camera operator. The name of the presumed pilot has not been released.

The entire accident took place within a few hundred feet of the famous Space Needle and on a busy street during rush hour. Traffic in the north part of Seattle is expected to remain difficult throughout the day as a result.

Posted by:Laurel Brown