Helicopter Crash In Cleveland

A helicopter crashed just after taking off from the roof of a Cleveland hospital early Friday, killing two people and seriously injuring another, officials said.

The helicopter slammed into an unoccupied car at University Hospitals of Cleveland and busted into pieces, with only the tail recognizable in the twisted wreckage. Witnesses reported loud explosions and large flames shooting into the air after the crash.

"The smoke just engulfed the whole building - it was seven stories high. People started running out of the hospital," said Natatia Lin, 24, who lives about 300 feet from the hospital and felt the explosions.

The pilot and a nurse were killed in the 12:30 a.m. crash, according to Lt. Sharon MacKay, a police spokeswoman. A 29-year-old medic, whose name was not released, suffered burns over 25 percent his body and was listed in serious condition at MetroHealth Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said.

Hospital spokesman Eric Sandstrom did not know what caused the crash, but said the crew was heading to another hospital to pick up a patient.

"I heard it sputter first, and it started losing altitude, then I heard 'Boom!' " said hospital patient Kevin Chandler, who watched the crash from the window of his ninth-floor hospital room. "The first thing I thought is they were trying to crash into the hospital."

Not wanting to take any chances, Chandler, 37, threw his winter coat on over his pajamas and raced out of the building into the 20-degree weather outside.

He managed to do that despite the fact that both of his arms are broken, injuries from a recent motorcycle accident.

"I'm not going back up there until it's safe," said Chandler in the first few minutes following the crash.

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