Police Helicopter Crashes After Aiding In Search For Missing Boy, Two Atlanta Police Officers Dead

 @CareyDrew2
on November 05 2012 9:40 AM
Police Helicopter Crash
The search for a missing 9-year-old boy ended temporarily after a helicopter aiding in the search crashed onto a city street, killing two Atlanta police officers. Reuters

The search for a missing 9-year-old boy ended temporarily after a helicopter aiding in the search crashed onto a city street, killing two Atlanta police officers.

The helicopter with two officers on board crashed late Saturday night, just miles from downtown Atlanta. According to CNN, the chopper was flying low to enable the officers to conduct a more thorough search. The officers reportedly died on impact.

Reports surfaced on Sunday afternoon with the police department identifying the officer as 48-year-old Richard Halford and 40-year-old Shawn Smiley.

CNN, which is headquartered in Atlanta, reports that Halford, who joined the police force in 1986 and had been with its air unit the past 16 years, is survived by his former wife and a 21-year-old daughter. Smiley leaves behind his wife and three children -- ages 5, 7 and 9 -- and had joined the Atlanta police department in 2010.

"Losing an officer is the most difficult thing a police chief can face," Police Chief George Turner told reporters. "Losing two is an unthinkable tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families of these officers and our thoughts and prayers are with them. This is a difficult day ... it is a reminder of their bravery and the sacrifices made by our officers every day."

The officers were reportedly a part of a team responding to a call about a missing boy, made shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday. Witnesses told reporters that the helicopter, which was being used to look for the child, lost control and crashed into the street.

Reports indicate that while there were no injuries on the ground, the crash itself knocked out power for 1,300 Georgia Power customers.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

In addition, Turner told reporters his department has cordoned off the area, but has turned the investigation over to the federal authorities.

The missing boy was eventually later found safe, according to CNN.

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