updated 5/13/2008 9:04:46 PM ET 2008-05-14T01:04:46

A helicopter plunged to the ground and burst into flames in a residential neighborhood in western Canada on Tuesday, killing three on board and a pedestrian on the street.

Elmer Bautz said he watched the helicopter fly around for a few minutes in the middle of the town before it came right down on top of a pedestrian, dragging the person several yards after it hit.

"There was a pedestrian walking on the street across from me and he was just about at the back alley, and I don't think he even knew what hit him," Bautz said.

"It actually touched the pedestrian and I think that's when it decapitated (the pedestrian)."

Bill Yearwood, a spokesman for Canada's Transportation Safety Board, said the pilot, two passengers in the helicopter and a pedestrian died.

Yearwood said the helicopter was under hire by the province's hydro utility.

Bautz said several people living nearby tried to help pull people from the wreckage.

Mary Fiorention, who lives about two blocks from the crash site, said it landed very close to houses. The helicopter was lying on the road, but close to a lawn.

Other residents said the helicopter was flying about 100 feet above the ground before it went down.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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