A helicopter crashed into a structure on a farm near Little Falls
A St. Cloud farmer is in critical condition today crashing his crop dusting helicopter into a barn in Ripley Township late this morning.
Morrison County Sheriff, Sheriff Michel Wetzel says, the pilot was 71-year old Gary Oleen. They say it happened on Haven Road just north of 233rd Street in Ripley Township, near Camp Ripley around 10:15AM.
Todd Sand, one of the farmer’s workers, told us he was the second person to reach the Oleen, who was knocked unconscious, but was still breathing after the crash. Sand says he doesn’t know how badly Oleen was hurt, but he didn’t see any blood on the pilot. Sand says he found Oleen dangling by his safety harness in the helicopter.
A witness told Sand he saw the helicopter spiral down and crash into the east side of the building. Sand says the main rotor separated from the helicopter during the crash and spewed oil everywhere.
Sand says, “When I first found out I took off from the truck and went screaming down to the farm. He was actually on top of the building but inside the building all at the same time. So yeah screaming his name and there was no response and I got a ladder real quick and went to the outside of the building, climbed up the oily roof and there was no response. That’s when the farmer, Farmer Jim, he called 9-1-1 and went from there.”
Wetzel says, “This was an extremely difficult and challenging rescue with the recarious position of the victim and his helicopter.”
Sand says he tried to help the pilot but he was unsure if his extra weight on the partially collapsed roof would case the helicopter to fall further through the roof.
Sheriffs says they firefighters used an aerial ladder truck to pull Oleen out of the wreckage.
Sand says Life Link airlifted the farmer to St. Cloud Hospital and no one else was injured during the crash. He says, although there was oil and smoke coming out of the exhaust the building nor helicopter caught on fire.