Crop-dusting helicopter crashes in Valley Center, injuring worker

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SAN DIEGO – A man suffered minor injuries when a helicopter piloted by a 51-year-old man crashed Friday morning while it was being refilled with pesticides in a remote area in Valley Center, authorities said.

Authorities received a report of a helicopter down near the intersection of Muutama and McNally roads around 7:30 a.m. San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies found a worker on the ground, Valley Center fire Capt. Joe Basinski said.

The helicopter used for crop dusting was refilling the aircraft with pesticides at the location, according to sheriff’s department.

The pilot was attempting to lift off, but the refilling hose was still attached to the helicopter, according to Basinski. It caused the helicopter to spin, crash and knock over the man standing on top of the refilling truck, he said.

The 35-year-old worker was taken to Palomar Medical Center with moderate injuries, the sheriff’s department reported.

The pilot was “doing just fine” and didn’t require medical attention, Basinski said.

The Bell 206 aircraft with a turbo-shaft engine is registered to Hummingbirds Inc. in Valley Center. The company — in business for 40 years — specializes in aerial agricultural application, according to the company’s website.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA were called in to investigate.

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