Police & Fire

Fort Lee Man was Pilot of Helicopter that "Hard Landed" in Chatham

Helicopter that made an unscheduled landing behind the Suburban Court apartments on Main Street in Chatham on Friday night Credits: Brad Rindos

CHATHAM, NJ - Two men for New Jersey were in the Robinson R44 Clipper helicopter that made a hard landing in Chatham on Friday evening.

The pilot has been identified as John J. Walsh, age 54, of Fort Lee, who refused medical aid at the scene. The passenger was Paul W. Benson, age 49, of Woodcliff Lake, who was transported from scene to Morristown Medical Center by Chatham Emergency Squad.

At approximately 6:20 p.m., a small Robinson R44 Clipper helicopter flying from Richmond Virginia to Lincoln Park. New Jersey with a pilot and 1 passenger performed an Off Airport Landing behind 525 Main Street Chatham Borough in the parking lot of the Chatham Village Apartments in a small area between two garages. The helicopter struck the roof of the southerly garage prior to coming to rest upright. The contributing circumstances leading up to this incident remain under investigation.

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The passenger was alert and conscious but complained of lower back pain and was transported to Morristown Medical Center by the Chatham Emergency Squad. The pilot remained on scene and cooperated with local and federal authorities.

The Robinson R44 Clipper helicopter is a small four seat helicopter, weighing 1450 pounds with a rotor length of 33 feet and an overall length of 30 feet. The helicopter has a range of 348 miles traveling at a top speed of 124 mph.

Chatham Police Department and the Morris County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Section performed a preliminary investigation and will be turning the scene over to the FAA tomorrow morning.

Responding to the scene was the Chatham Police Department, Madison Police Department, Chatham Fire Department, Chatham Office of Emergency Management, Chatham Emergency Squad, Morris County Office of Emergency Management, and Morris County Hazmat Team.

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