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Pilot killed in helicopter crash at Delaware industrial park

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) — A medical helicopter crashed Thursday behind a postal facility in a Delaware industrial park, killing the pilot, authorities said.

The Eurocopter EC135, registered to the University of Pennsylvania, crashed just before noon about 1 mile (1.5 kilometers) southeast of New Castle Airport.

Delaware State Police spokesman Cpl. Jeffrey Hale said the pilot, 37-year-old Michael R. Murphy of Franklinville, New Jersey, was pronounced dead at the scene.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the crash. Hale said the helicopter crashed into a ditch behind a U.S. Post office facility, causing minor damage to an outbuilding and vehicles parked behind the building.

James Salmon, a spokesman for the airport’s operator, Delaware River and Bay Authority, said the helicopter was not engaged in life-saving operations at the time of the crash.

Troopers said Murphy had flown from the Atlantic City Airport and was conducting approach training in the area of the New Castle Airport.

Ryan Dillman, a worker at a nearby business, told The News Journal of Wilmington that he heard a noise outside that “kept getting stronger and stronger. “

“Right when we looked out, it crashed and exploded. There were flames everywhere, and smoke. My heart dropped,” he said.

Susan Phillips, a spokeswoman for Penn Medicine, said in a prepared statement that the helicopter was operated by Metro Aviation, which provides aviation services for PennStar, the air transportation service for the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

“The pilot of the helicopter was conducting a training flight. No patients or Penn Medicine employees were on board,” Phillips said.

Kristen King Holmes, marking director for Metro Aviation, based in Shreveport, Louisiana, said in an email that the company has sent operations, safety and maintenance personnel to the scene.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our pilot’s family and the entire Metro Aviation and PennSTAR family,” Holmes wrote.

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