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'Absolute miracle': 4 people, including infant, survive helicopter crash near Philadelphia

The craft crash-landed near a church in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby.

A medical helicopter crashed just outside Philadelphia on Tuesday, but in an "absolute miracle," all people on board  — including an infant — survived, authorities said.

The craft was headed to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia when it encountered difficulties at about 1 p.m. ET and crash-landed in the Drexel Hill neighborhood of Upper Darby, officials said.

"It's an absolute miracle, what you see behind," Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt told reporters at the scene.

Four people were inside the helicopter: the pilot, the co-pilot, a nurse and an infant, officials said.

Image: A medical helicopter next to the Drexel Hill United Methodist Church after it crashed in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby Township in Delaware County, Pa., on Jan. 11, 2022.
A medical helicopter next to Drexel Hill United Methodist Church after it crashed Tuesday in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby Township in Delaware County, Pa.Monica Herndon / The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

The flight originated out of state. Neighbors had called 911 before the crash reporting a "helicopter in distress," Bernhardt said.

"There's no debris, no wires down, no trees," Bernhardt said. "How that pilot was able to get that ... and all four of them were able get themselves out of the helicopter, with assistance from the police and fire department."

The child was eventually transported to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is about 7 miles away.

Firefighters immediately surrounded the downed craft to prevent fuel from leaking into a drain or creating a flammable hazard.

“This was a miraculous landing,” Upper Darby Fire Chief Derrick Sawyer said. "We’re blessed. We’re blessed as a community. We’re blessed as a fire service, police department and emergency management. We are totally blessed.” 

The wreckage was just a few feet away from the entrance of Drexel Hill United Methodist Church at 600 Burmont Rd.

"It is a miracle. It's an absolute miracle on Burmont Road. That's what it is," Bernhardt said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.

Witnesses reported that the distressed helicopter was looking for a clear spot to land as safely as possible.

"I can't wait to meet this gentleman and shake his hand for getting this plane down, the helicopter, the way he did," Bernhardt said.