PALM RIVER, Fla. — The FAA has confirmed the helicopter involved in Thursday's deadly crash also encountered mechanical problems four days before the crash on a Tampa highway that killed a passenger of a pickup truck traveling nearby.
The pilot of the Robinson R4A helicopter, registration N4046J, landed safely at Geraci Airpark in Lutz at 10:50 a.m. on Sunday, March 31, after reporting a possible mechanical problem, according to the FAA. The pilot was the only person aboard the helicopter at the time of the incident. The FAA continues to investigate the crash and the previous mechanical issue that was reported.
On Thursday, the helicopter suffered a catastrophic engine failure and made a hard landing on 50th Street at Palm River Road a little before 2:30 p.m.
Bryan Messick, 39, was piloting the helicopter while Joshua Wells, 21, was co-piloting.
After the hard landing, one of the rotor blades hit a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that was carrying 72-year-old Deodat Gangapersaud and his son, 35-year-old Ryan Persaud. The rotor blade hit Deodat, who was a passenger in the the truck. He suffered fatal injuries.
Deputies said Ryan, who was driving the truck, was transported to Tampa General Hospital. Officials said he suffered minor cuts.