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WALKERVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - One person died and another is recovering after a helicopter crashed Saturday afternoon in a remote, swampy area in Oceana County.
Several emergency crews and rescue workers had difficulty finding the crash site, due to it being in a remote area with no roads.
Around 3:30 p.m., a pilot and passenger in a private helicopter flew over a large federal forest known as Tanner's Swamp, near Walkerville. Something occurred, which caused the helicopter to crash.
The passenger, 28-year-old Matt Williams of Hart, was able to make a cellphone call to 911. After Williams gave dispatchers his approximate location coordinates, 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.
The crash site was located around 4:17 p.m., with parts of the helicopter seen in the swamp.
Rescuers told 24 Hour News 8 that because of the difficult terrain and wooded area, the Coast Guard helicopter could not use its rescue basket to retrieve the pilot and passenger. Also, the fire departments' all-terrain vehicles could not make it to the crash site.
Various rescuers had to walk across two streams of knee-deep water and navigate through trees and logs to reach the crash site.
Then, the rescue workers hand-carried the victims more than 1,000 feet to reach a spot where the all-terrain vehicles could maneuver; approximately 2 miles from 168th Avenue.
The pilot, 49-year-old Thomas Slocum of Hart, was pronounced dead at the scene. Matt Williams is at a Grand Rapids hospital in fair condition.
The cause of the helicopter crash is unknown at this time and remains under investigation.
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