Blue Mountain Eagle
UPDATE: Monument, Pilot Rock men injured in Ritter helicopter crash
RITTER — A helicopter pilot and his passenger were injured in a crash near Ritter Butte Wednesday morning.
Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said a helicopter being used to hunt coyotes ran out of fuel and crashed into several juniper trees on a rock outcropping on property owned by Paul Walton, Ritter, about a half-mile southwest of the Ritter Butte Lookout and one-and-a-half miles west of Highway 395 in northern Grant County.
The crash was reported at about 10:06 a.m. Jan. 13, and the sheriff’s office, along with ambulances from Long Creek and John Day, were dispatched to the scene.
Palmer said, when he arrived on the scene, members of the Long Creek Fire Department were packing the helicopter pilot, Cliff A. Hoeft, 60, Pilot Rock, several hundred yards to an awaiting ambulance.
The single passenger, Cody J. Cole, 34, Monument, walked away from the crash, Palmer said, but both men were transported to Blue Mountain Hospital in John Day. Hoeft was later transferred by aircraft to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.
Palmer, who conducted the initial investigation, said the men were “lucky to be alive.” He said the 1988 Enstrom helicopter, registered to BRD Equipment in Adams, was heavily damaged and is considered a total loss.
Palmer said the helicopter and pilot were hired by a number of people who were hunting coyotes on adjoining properties in the area. He said different passengers were taking turns shooting from the helicopter, and the crash occurred within about 1,000 yards of where the aircraft had been landing near the group of hunters.