One dead after helicopter crashes in South Brunswick near Princeton border (updated)

helicopter in water
Firefighters checking the water where the helicopter went down. Photo: South Brunswick Police.

A helicopter crashed into the D&R Canal Thursday afternoon in the part of Kingston Village that is in South Brunswick near the border of Princeton and Franklin Township. One person died in the crash, officials said.

Witnesses told officials that they saw the chopper flying erratically before it crashed. The helicopter landed upside down in the water. The front of the helicopter was crushed and the helicopter blades were bent.

The crash happened near Route 27, Euclid Avenue, and Academy Street around 3:25 p.m. Thursday. The helicopter, a Robinson R-22 two-seater light utility helicopter, had taken off from the Princeton Airport in Montgomery Township. It landed in the D&R Canal in a wooded area and was submerged in water. Lake Carnegie ends in the area and the Millstone River and the D&R Canal both run through that area.

First responders across the region rushed to the scene. Rescue crews found a male pilot and dragged him out. He suffered massive injuries and could not be saved. Rescue workers then searched the water to see if there were any other victims. The pilot was the only person on the helicopter at the time of the crash, officials said.

“They worked their way through the water and saw the shoulder of the pilot in the water, in the helicopter upside down,” Deputy Police Chief Jim Ryan said at a press briefing in the parking lot of the Eno Terra restaurant near the scene of the crash. “The two men lifted the helicopter and pulled the pilot from the helicopter, dragging him onto the shoreline nearby. The pilot had suffered massive injuries, and life-saving efforts were not possible.”

The identity of the crash victim has not been released yet.

Police in South Brunswick said there were no injuries to people on the ground.

Drivers reported at 4:30 that traffic was backed up along Route 27 and nearby roads. Police have asked people to avoid the area.

Route 27 was closed between Laurel Avenue and River Road for more than an hour but was reopened at about 4:45 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate what caused the crash.

More information is expected to be released Thursday evening. We will update this story.