Pilot’s condition critical after helicopter crash
LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -- A 71-year-old man was listed in critical condition Wednesday after a helicopter he was piloting crashed into a barn north of Little Falls.
Gary Earl Oleen of St. Cloud was flying the crop-spraying helicopter at 10:18 a.m. Wednesday when he crashed onto the roof of a barn, according to the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office.
Oleen was trapped inside the helicopter for about 20 minutes, as the helicopter was through the metal roof of the barn, but not through the interior ceiling.
Emergency crews were limited in terms of how they could get to Oleen, said Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel. There was oil and fuel everywhere, so crews couldn’t cut through the metal and risk creating sparks. Since they couldn’t get to Oleen from underneath, crews had to get to him by climbing on the roof.
The roof itself was in danger of collapsing at any moment, Wetzel said. It also was slippery with spilled oil and fuel.
An aerial ladder truck from the Little Falls Fire Department allowed responders to reach the pilot.
“This was an extremely difficult and challenging rescue with the precarious position of the victim and his helicopter,” Wetzel said.
Oleen, who was hired by the owner of the farm to spray the fields, was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Wednesday.
The cause of the crash had not been determined. The Federal Aviation Administration is assisting in the investigation.