Video Shows Pilot Letting People Drop From Helicopter Skids - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Video Shows Pilot Letting People Drop From Helicopter Skids

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by Adam Ghassemi

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Memorial Day was perfect on Dale Hollow Lake this year until Jacqulyn Medlin and her family decided it was time to go home.

"We come around one of the bluffs to where a big, open channel is and we see a helicopter just circling. First thing I thought was it was a rescue attempt," she said.

Seconds later she saw someone fall from the chopper to the water below.

"My heart sunk, I thought oh my goodness. They're rescuing someone that has been injured and now they've fallen," the mother and nurse said recounting her horror of watching it happen again and again.

"About the third time you realize, well they're just doing this for fun," Medlin said.

From video shot on cell phones you see the helicopter hover so low it's nearly touching the water. As its blades inch closer to roughly a dozen people on a pontoon boat one or two people at a time grab the skids and hold on until they're high enough to make a big splash.

"If one of those blades hits something or he takes a nose dive into that water. Every person on that boat and all the surrounding boats are in danger," said Medlin.

At one point, the pilot goes so high he's nearly at the tree line before the person hanging on drops an estimated 50ft. into Dale Hollow Lake. It goes on for at least 20 minutes while holding up a number of boats, Medlin says, couldn't pass while the stunts were going on.

She knows medically how quickly this could have ended in injury or even death.

"I thought I'm going to witness someone hit this water so hard that they're going to break their neck and they're not going to come back up," she said.

Officials with the FAA and Corps of Engineers said Tuesday they are launching investigations into exactly what happened.

A spokesman at the Corps' Nashville District office says using any aircraft so close to one of their lakes without permission violates federal law and could result in a $5,000 fine or 6 months in jail.

NewsChannel 5 used the helicopter's tail number to track its owner. Its certification is currently terminated, but traces back to a Chattanooga company. No one there today returned our call for comment.

Email: aghassemi@newschannel5.com
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