Helicopter Forced to Land in San Lorenzo Resident's Front Yard

MARCH 20, 2001

A helicopter operating out of Hayward Executive Airport was forced to land on the front yard of a San Lorenzo home at 9:45 p.m. on March 17.

The helicopter, operated by the East Bay Regional Park District police, apparently lost power moments before it landed. The pilot, Bill Probets, reported that the engine failed while he was flying at 600 feet. Probets was able to maintain sufficient lift -- simply by changing the pitch of the blades -- until he could land on a yard at El Balcon and Los Reyes avenues in the Ashland district of San Lorenzo.

No persons were injured, but the aircraft hit power and telephone lines during the emergency landing on Bob Farrell's property. According to Farrell, the back end of the helicopter broke off and the copter's blades were two feet from his house when the aircraft came to rest on his lawn.

Farrell was in his backyard at the time the copter lost power. He looked up and saw the helicopter descend rapidly. "It looked like it was coming right at me," he said.

The Aerospatiale AS350B is the newest of two helicopters owned by the park district. At the time of the accident the aircraft was on routine patrol for the Alameda County sheriff's department, which has a contract with the park district to use the helicopter six to eight hours a week. Aboard the aircraft, in addition to the pilot, were sheriff's deputy Bob Brock and an unidentified county employee.

Sources: Daily Review; San Leandro Times