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Report: Helicopter crash on Daniel Island may have been caused by drone

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An aerial drone. FILE

Local and federal authorities are investigating a helicopter crash on Daniel Island that reportedly was caused by a drone Wednesday afternoon.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Thursday that a Robinson R22 helicopter struck a tree and crash landed near the southern tip of the island around 2 p.m.

Kathleen Bergen, an agency spokeswoman, said the investigation is ongoing and that no further information would be available on Thursday.

A Charleston police incident report offers further details about the crash and the events that reportedly caused it.

Officers were called at 4:30 p.m. to speak with a private helicopter instructor in North Charleston who reported being involved in "a single aircraft mishap," near Daniel Island Drive and Village Crossing Drive earlier that afternoon, the report said.

The instructor told officers he worked for Holy City Helicopters and was giving a lesson to a client, the report said. The two were flying over undeveloped land on Daniel Island and the student was practicing a maneuver when, "a white 'DJI Phantom quad-copter drone' was headed into their air space."

The instructor took over control of the helicopter and attempted evasive maneuvers but the tail rudder hit brush or a small tree, causing him to lose control, the report said. 

The helicopter landed on the rear of its landing skids before turning onto its side, the report said. 

"The helicopter landed in undeveloped land and could not be seen by the general public," the report said. 

After the crash, the instructor contacted the FAA, Charleston International Airport and the helicopter's owner, the report said. The owner later determined that the aircraft was totaled following the crash.

No injuries were reported in the crash, the report said. 

Further information about the drone or who may have been flying it was not available.

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

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