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Feds probe helicopter crash that killed 2 Atlanta police officers

David Tulis / AP

Law enforcement personnel embrace early Sunday as others investigate the scene of an Atlanta Police Department helicopter crash that killed two officers aboard.

Updated at 5:09 p.m. ET: Federal aviation officials on Sunday were investigating what caused a police helicopter to crash on a street in northwest Atlanta, killing the two officers aboard.

The officers were using the helicopter to search for a missing 9-year-old boy on Saturday night. Witnesses said the helicopter was flying low and clipped power lines as it crashed to the ground near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Hamilton E. Holmes drives, WXIA-TV reported


The boy was found safe shortly after the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. No one on the ground was hurt.

The officers were identified Sunday as Richard J. Halford, 48, and Shawn A. Smiley, 40.

Records with the Federal Aviation Administration showed the helicopter was a Hughes OH-6A manufactured in 1967, according to The Associated Press. The Hughes has historically been a military workhorse.

A witness, Ravien Walker, told Channel 2 Action News: “I noticed something falling out of the sky. It hit the power line and it hit the ground. I jumped out of my car and ran because I was really close to it. It could have fell right down on top of my car.”

Another witness, Darryl James, told The Associated Press, “For that time of night, there was nobody on the street for some odd reason. The helicopter hit in the middle of the street with no traffic.”

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