The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

71° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    2 of 3 copter victims out of hospital


    Two of three survivors of Monday’s helicopter crash that killed a veteran pilot have been released from the hospital, and one remained in serious condition Tuesday, deputies said.

    Edwin Nettleton, 58, Paul Panzica, 41, and Larry Sayers, 64, were aboard the helicopter scouting in the Ironwood Forest National Monument area for possible locations for radio communication towers when the aircraft crashed at 11:30 a.m., said Deputy Jason Ogan, a Pima County Sheriff’s Departmentspokesman.

    Sayers, a county employee assigned to the Pima County Wireless Integrated Network project, had life-threatening injuries and was flown to University Medical Center where he remained in serious condition Tuesday, Ogan said.

    Nettleton, a consultant with AECOM, an architecture and building company, and Panzica, also a county employee, had minor injuries and were released from the hospital, Ogan said.

    Loren Leonberger, a civilian pilot for the Sheriff’s Department, died in the crash. He was a Vietnam veteran and spent years flying for agencies such as the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Pima County.

    The crash occurred on the side of the Waterman Mountains west of Picture Rocks on the far northwest side.

    Northwest Fire Department’s special operations team, the Border Patrol and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base crews were among first on the scene.

    An agent from the Border Patrol’s search, trauma and rescue unit, or Borstar, was working near the area when a sheriff’s deputy flagged him down and told him about the crash, said Eric Cantu, a Border Patrol spokesman.

    The agent then notified Border Patrol headquarters and began hiking to the crash site. The agent wasn’t directed by anyone to do what he did, Cantu said. He was notified of the incident and then took it upon himself to start hiking.

    “”There couldn’t have been a better person to be flagged down in the area; Borstar agents are in phenomenal shape and are highly trained paramedics,”” Cantu said.

    As the agent began the hike, Northwest Fire Capt. Paul Mischel, the lead agent in the high-risk rescue, arrived with a dozen members of Northwest Fire’s special operations team.

    The elite group consists of firefighters with special rescue training. Mischel sent four members of the team on foot with medical equipment as D-M rescuers arrived in helicopters.

    They soon caught up with the Border Patrol agent and arrived at the crash site about one minute after D-M rescuers were flown in. Rescuers found all four people trapped inside the crushed helicopter, two of them unconscious.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash along with the Federal Aviation Administration, and will likely put out a preliminary report within weeks. But the formal crash determination could take months or years, said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman.

    Several agencies also assisted in the rescue including Avra Valley Fire and search-and-rescue teams from Pinal and Pima counties.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search