CHILTON COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - The wreckage of a Georgia law enforcement helicopter that crashed into the waters of Lake Mitchell in Verbena, located in Chilton County, was found Friday afternoon.
Chilton County Sheriff’s Assistant Chief Deputy Shane Mayfield said that rescue crews were able to locate the helicopter in the lake, but they have been unable to recover it.
The dive teams will resume their recovery efforts Saturday morning at 8 a.m.
The crash site is in the area of Cargile Creek, located on Lake Mitchell, according to the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office. That’s about 50 miles north of Montgomery and 50 miles south of Birmingham near the geographical center of the state.
The helicopter belonged to the Metro Narcotics Task force and was heading from Columbus, Georgia to Clanton, Alabama when the crash occurred.
Sheriff Donna Tompkins of Muscogee County, Georgia. said the helicopter belongs to a multi-jurisdictional drug task force that includes Muscogee, Harris and Russell counties, as well as Columbus and Phenix City police.
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said the pilot, whose name hasn’t been released, is a retired Columbus Police Department officer who works for the department part time. Taylor said no one has been able to reach the pilot since the crash, which leads them to believe that he wasn’t able to escape.
According to Taylor and Hayfield, there has been no sign of life since the crash.
“It doesn’t look good. At this point, we haven’t found him, and we haven’t been able to contact him, so we believe that he is still in the water at this point and we’re doing our best to bring him home," Taylor said.
The helicopter was flying from Columbus to Clanton for a routine maintenance check when it supposedly struck a power line and crashed into the water.
“There’s a (power) line that I think comes across the river here, and it’s down, so we’re thinking right now that’s what occurred," Taylor said.
Taylor said there could have been more than one person in the helicopter at the time of the crash. According to Taylor, the pilot left Columbus early Friday morning, and after that it’s believed he stopped in Auburn. It’s there that Taylor worries the pilot picked up another person.
“We’ve been told unofficially that he made a stop in Auburn. We’re trying to run that down and track that down and see if we can find out that whole side of it," Taylor said.