Helicopter crashes in Cook; no serious injuries
Tim Picek had just finished a limousine run near Cook on Saturday evening when his two young sons began begging for a helicopter ride. Sure, Picek said -- the Cook Timber Days festival was going on, complete with 12-minute helicopter tours of Coo...
Tim Picek had just finished a limousine run near Cook on Saturday evening when his two young sons began begging for a helicopter ride.
Sure, Picek said -- the Cook Timber Days festival was going on, complete with 12-minute helicopter tours of Cook, so Picek paid for Bennett, 12, and Hayden, 7, to take a spin. The boys were moments away from their ride, watching the helicopter descend toward its landing site at the Cook School, when something went wrong.
About 8:22 p.m., witnesses said they heard a loud "pop," and the helicopter, carrying the pilot and one local adult, began spinning around, Picek said. He and his sons watched the helicopter make a quick emergency landing near the Littlefork River, and moments later, the helicopter tipped over on its side.
"Whoo," Picek said on Sunday. "If you don't think that's scary... ."
Picek also is the Cook assistant fire chief, so he ran toward the scene, still wearing his limo driver's attire of a suit, tie and jacket.
The pilot, who had been giving rides at Timber Days for the past three years, had a slight head injury. He was treated at Cook Hospital and released. The passenger was not injured, and Picek said the emergency landing was made practically in the passenger's backyard.
Emergency responders secured the scene until officials from the Federal Aviation Administration could arrive. Responders set up a plastic tote to catch fuel that was leaking from the helicopter, Picek said. The Cook Police Department, Cook Fire Department, Cook Ambulance and St. Louis County Sheriff's office all responded to the scene.
Emergency responders were called back Sunday afternoon about 2:30 p.m., Picek said. They used the Fire Department's Jaws of Life extrication tool to cut the bend rotor blades off the helicopter so it could be loaded onto a trailer and hauled away. He said the helicopter appeared to be totaled.
"For a small town, this was a lot of activity," Picek said.
The rest of the Cook Timber Days festivities went on as planned, said Ellie Brunner, secretary-treasurer of the Cook Area Chamber of Commerce.
Timber Days have been going off mostly without a hitch most years since 1947, Brunner said. When asked if organizers would include helicopter rides in next year's plans, Brunner was emphatic.
"Absolutely," she said. "If [the pilot] is willing to come up, we'll have him."
JANNA GOERDT covers the communities surrounding Duluth. She can be reached weekdays at (218) 279-5527 or by e-mail at jgoerdt@ duluthnews.com.