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Credit: @meelataruc
Credit: @meelataruc (used with permission)

SEATTLE — A news helicopter crashed Tuesday morning near the Space Needle in Seattle, killing two people inside the helicopter and critically injuring another, according to the Seattle Fire Department.

The Seattle Fire Department confirmed there were “two DOAs” at the crash scene. The victims were identified by KOMO as photojournalist Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner.

Bill Strothman won 13 Emmy awards over his career as a news photographer.

“One of things I loved about Bill Strothman is the legacy he leaves behind at KOMO. His son is also a photographer here,” Reporter Lindsay Cohen tweeted.

According to CNN, a 37-year-old injured man extricated himself from one of three vehicles that caught fire and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition with burns over 50 percent of his body.

Bill Strothman (KOMO)
Bill Strothman (KOMO)

A woman inside a second car was not injured; a man inside a third vehicle had left the scene and is being sought by authorities, according to CNN. “We just want to talk to him to make sure he’s OK,” spokesperson Kyle Moore said.

The helicopter was apparently taking off when it crashed into at least three cars around 7:40 a.m. PT.

KOMO said the helicopter crashed on Broad Street near KOMO’s offices. The helicopter was used by KOMO and KING.

Rich Marriott, a meteorologist for KING, said weather did not appear to have contributed to the crash — visibility was clear and winds were not gusty, he said.

Arriving firefighters found lines of blazing fuel in the street and thick, black smoke covering the area, with “wreckage strewn across the lawn along with wreckage across the street.”

An eyewitness said one person was running from the scene with his shirt on fire. He was extinguished by officers at the scene.

“I found myself uncontrollably screaming. People immediately called 911. A police car was there in maybe 2-3 minutes,” eyewitness Tyler King said.

Seattle Police said the investigation will likely take several hours.

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