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Man injured in helicopter crash

By Staff | Jun 3, 2012

Friday night, May 25, turned out to be anything but uneventful for a Delavan man who had just gotten home from work.

Rick Lampman was getting ready to go out and tinker on his pickup truck when he heard a helicopter and went to take a look.

“I thought, WOW! It’s flying pretty low. Then it hit some power lines,” he says. “The helicopter was sling-shotted into the air and bounced when it hit the ground. There was a huge bang.”

“I watched the whole thing. It was something you never imagine seeing right out your front door,” he adds.

Lampman called 911 for help as he was running to the crash site, a field just west and outside of town.

“Everything happened so fast I didn’t have time to think of what I was doing,” Lampman says.

Faribault County authorities received the call at 5:35 p.m.

Sheriff Mike Gormley and deputy Pat Campbell were among the first arriving at the scene.

“He was conscious and responding to questions I was asking him,” says Gormley.

Chief deputy Scott Adams says authorities believe the pilot, 64-year-old John Holmberg of St. Peter, crashed after hitting power lines while spraying drainage ditches.

Resident Ward Anderson, who lives near the field, says the lights at their residence “flickered a little bit” but they did not lose power.

Authorities say some residents were without electricity for a short time.

Holmberg is the owner of Terryjon Aviation Inc. located west of St.Peter.

Lampman says Holmberg was thrown from the helicopter, which had smoke coming out of an exhaust pipe.

“He wanted to get up and leave, and said, ‘I’m alright. I’m OK,'” says Lampman. “He kept asking, ‘What did I hit? What did I hit?'”

Because there was smoke coming out of the aircraft’s exhaust pipe, Lampman checked to make sure there was no fuel leaking.

On Saturday morning, Tom Graney of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Minneapolis and local officials continued their investigation.

“I’m trying to get all the facts. I’ll have to talk to the pilot and get his side of the story. He’s going to have most of the information of what happened,” says Graney.

Determination of cause of the crash may take several weeks, says Graney.

Commissioner Bill Groskreutz watched as officials gathered information and representatives of the aviation company picked up debris from the crash.

“I’m just concerned about the potential liability for the county,” says Groskreutz.

The commissioner says he believes this is the third year Holmberg has been spraying ditches for the county.

Adams says Holmberg sustained non-life threatening injuries and was air-lifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

He was listed in stable condition on Saturday.

Assisting at the scene were the Delavan Fire Department and First Responders, Winnebago Ambulance, Minnesota State Patrol, FAA, National Transportation Safety Board and USDA.