Helicopter crash investigation to continue offsite

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The wrecked Pima County Sheriff's Department helicopter has been removed from Waterman Peak northwest of Tucson.

It crashed on the side of the mountain Monday morning, killing the pilot and injuring three passengers.

On Tuesday morning, federal investigators made the 45-minute hike up to the wreckage aided by members of the Pima County Search and Rescue.  The investigators, from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, viewed the crash site as they begin their investigation into what caused the crash. 

"The helicopter appears to have struck at the top and then tumbled down apart of the accident sequence, what the initiated sequence was, I don't know yet," said Mike Huhn from the National Transportation Safety Board.  "We have some indications of ground scarring, vegetation scarring, the top is relatively level plateau, whether they were trying to land there or just surveying the site, I don't know what their intentions were at this point in time."

Investigators spent most of the day on hillside with poor weather conditions.  Early Tuesday afternoon, the wreckage was airlifted off the mountain and placed on a flat-bed truck nearby.

"I did talk to the helicopter pilot and I will tell you it was quite windy up there, he said it was one of the more challenging recoveries, he was working hard," said Huhn.

The chopper will be moved to a warehouse in Phoenix and then the real investigation will get under way.

"We will have a preliminary report out on our website in about 5-10 days," said Huhn.  "It's gonna be factual, pretty brief, couple of paragraphs, the final report will be down stream six months to a year."

Investigators say they're not sure if the weather had anything to do with the crash.

Their initial report next week probably won't include any findings on that either.