The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 14, 2006

Still no sign of reported downed helicopter

By Karen Middleton

Officials still do not know if a report of a downed helicopter Wednesday afternoon was bogus.

Limestone County sent out numerous patrol cars and Segers Volunteer Fire Department searched for the downed helicopter, which a caller told a Madison County E-911 dispatcher she saw go down near Arrowhead Landing on the Tennessee River.

A Limestone County E-911 spokesman said the report was patched through from the Madison office before the alert went out. Madison E-911 office director Ernie Blair was out of town Thursday and dispatchers could not release any information about the call.

Lawmen called off the search about 5 p.m. without finding wreckage.

Kelley Lawrence, acting news director of Clear Channel Broadcasting, which has its station on Greenbrier Road, said she saw a low-flying helicopter over the building, which houses WBHP, WDRM, WTAK, and 100.3 The River, but she did not call in the report to authorities.

“I saw a very, very low helicopter over our building on Greenbrier Road,” Lawrence said. “It was in back of our building and it was so low I thought it would hit our microwave tower. It definitely was not a military helicopter. It had an old paint job, sort of like you’d see on a 1970s car, but it was faded. It had probably been a bright green. It was so low you could almost see the white lettering on the side.

“It flew over our building and toward the (Wheeler) Wildlife Refuge and pretty soon we heard a big ‘boom.’ There is a warehouse near here and they could have dropped something. I did not see it go down, but pretty soon we got a call from WAFF (Channel 48) in Huntsville, who told us they heard a helicopter had gone down. I went out and got in the van and saw Limestone County Sheriff’s deputies driving around looking for it.”

Lawrence said she called both the Huntsville International Airport Authority and the media director of Redstone Arsenal and both said they had no missing aircraft.