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Rancho Santa Fe Pilot, Passenger Die In Helicopter Crash

Photo credit: 10News

Firefighters and other emergency personnel respond to a fatal helicopter crash at McClellan-Palomar Airport, Nov. 18, 2015.

A pilot and a passenger killed in a fiery helicopter crash at McClellan-Palomar Airport were identified Thursday.

Bruce Allen Erickson, 65, of Rancho Santa Fe and his 60-year-old passenger, Wayne Frank Lewis of Cardiff, died as a result of a crash and fire. It occurred shortly before 4:30 a.m. Wednesday as they were practicing landings at the general-aviation facility on Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office.

The Airbus AS350 helicopter's tail hit the ground as it approached the landing pad. The body of the chopper then hit the ground, spun out and went up in flames, authorities said.

Emergency crews were still extinguishing the resulting fire a half-hour later, according to North County Dispatch.

The crash prompted a closure of the single-runway airport. McClellan- Palomar Airport has since reopened to helicopter operations, but the runway remained closed this morning, according to the county Department of Public Works.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were summoned to the accident site following the crash, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.


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