Authorities stop search for downed helicopter

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An overheard distress call spurred a multi-agency search for a crashed helicopter along the Savannah River that came up empty Saturday.

Aiken County Sheriff’s Capt. Troy Elwell said the agency received an alert from South Carolina Highway Patrol, who had been alerted by the Federal Aviation Administration that there was a crashed helicopter in the area.

Personnel from Aiken and Richmond County, along with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, hunted hours for the helicopter, but turned up nothing.

Around 2:50 p.m., a pilot contacted the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center, located in Hampton, Ga., about an overheard conversation, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said. The pilot heard two other pilots talking about a possible distressed helicopter.

As of Saturday evening, Peters said there were no missing or overdue aircraft or helicopters anywhere in the area.

Elwell said there was a low-flying Chinook helicopter over North Augusta around 4:30 p.m., but it had left the area unharmed.

“We don’t know what happened at this point,” Elwell said. “We would need more information to continue the search.”


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