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WALKERVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - 911 call recordings from a Dec. 1 Oceana County helicopter wreck reveal more about what happened after the aircraft crashed in a swamp.
The survivor of the crash, 28-year-old Matt Williams, was the one to call 911.
"I've been in a helicopter crash," he told a dispatcher.
"Helicopter crash? Where at?" the dispatcher questioned.
"To tell you the truth, I'm kind of disoriented right now," Williams said. "I can't remember much from when we went down. ...I really don't know where we are."
Dispatchers tried finding the site by tracking Williams' cellphone, but bad cell coverage made that difficult.
The helicopter had crashed in Tanner's Swamp in Manistee National Forest near Walkerville. Williams was trapped in the wreckage for hours.
"I'm not the pilot," Williams told dispatchers. "But I was riding. The pilot is unresponsive."
"Oh, dear. How many people in the aircraft? Just you and the pilot?" asked the dispatcher.
"There was just two of us," Williams responded.
The pilot, 49-year-old Tom Slocum of Hart, was later pronounced dead.
Williams was found and rescued after a U.S. Coast Guard rescue helicopter and an Aero Med helicopter were dispatched to help locate the crash.
Crews from the Oceana County Sheriff's Department, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, federal forest service rangers, as well as fire departments from Walkerville, Hart and Pentwater also responded.
Williams suffered two broken shoulders and a broken collar bone, among other injuries. He is said to be undergoing surgeries, according to Oceana County Sheriff's Department Lt. Craig Mast, but is going to recover.
Oceana County authorities now have the task of getting the helicopter out of the swamp.
Among the options to get the helicopter out of the swamp, according to Lt. Mast, are pulling it out with another helicopter at a cost of about $15,000 and hauling it out with a team of Amish horses, which is a significantly cheaper option.
In any case, the cost of extraction will be paid by the victim's estate, not taxpayers.
Lt. Mast said he hopes to start the removal process next week.
The Federal Aviation Administration cannot begin its investigation into the crash until the helicopter is pulled from the swamp.
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