Cochise County Sheriff's helicopter makes hard landing near Tombstone

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The Cochise County Sheriff's Office's helicopter was forced to make a hard landing southwest of Tombstone. By Jennifer Thomas The Cochise County Sheriff's Office's helicopter was forced to make a hard landing southwest of Tombstone. By Jennifer Thomas
The Cochise County Sheriff's Office's helicopter was forced to make a hard landing southwest of Tombstone. By Jennifer Thomas The Cochise County Sheriff's Office's helicopter was forced to make a hard landing southwest of Tombstone. By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TOMBSTONE, Ariz. – A pilot and passenger walked away uninjured after the Cochise County Sheriff's Office's helicopter was forced to make a hard landing southwest of Tombstone Friday morning.

The pilot landed the helicopter near the 1000 block of Old Bisbee Highway at approximately 11:20 a.m.

Spokeswoman Carol Capas said the pilot, Larry Pucci, landed Cochise Air in a clearing in the middle of significant brush. Damage to the helicopter included a missing rear rotor.

Pucci and the law enforcement observer on board, Officer Justin Dannels, were examined by medical personnel and released.

Cochise Air had been in a normal daily flight pattern when it checked on reports of heavy black smoke in the Palominas area at about 10:15 a.m., according to Capas. After determining the smoke was from a controlled burn, the helicopter returned to the Sierra Vista Municipal Airport before taking off again to survey the county area.

It was at this point that Dannels reported the helicopter was down.

At this time, it is unclear what happened to the rotor.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration was contacted.

Officials with Airwest Helicopters said they will have a replacement helicopter back in Cochise County by Saturday.