BAXTER COUNTY, Ark. (The Baxter Bulletin) - (Editor's Note: It was reported by Baxter Regional Medical Center this morning that 71-year-old Otis Ivie, of Mountain Home, the driver of a car Thursday that flew off a retaining wall and into two helicopters owned by the Baxter County Sheriff's Office, was no longer a patient at the hospital. BRMC did not release whether Ivie was treated and released or transferred to another facility.)
It's not every day you hear a report of a car colliding with a helicopter, but that's what happened Thursday afternoon when an out-of-control auto flew off an 8-foot retaining wall next to the Baxter County Sheriff's Office and slammed into two helicopters.
Otis Ivie, 71, of Mountain Home, the driver, was taken to Baxter Regional Medical Center for treatment after being pried from his crushed Lincoln Continental.
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Witnesses said they saw Ivie at the intersection of Ninth and College streets heading west toward the Baxter County Sheriff's Office. They noted seeing his car swerving all over the road and accelerating as he sped through the intersection of Ninth Street and U.S. Highway 62 Business.
Surveillance video from the sheriff's office shows the 2000 Lincoln Continental narrowly miss a utility poll and climb the edge of a retaining wall before launching to the road below.
As the car flies through the air, the video shows it twisting violently toward the passenger side before slamming back down to earth, ripping through a security fence, pinballing off one helicopter and smashing head-on into a second helicopter.
The impact with the second helicopter was so great it caused the tail of the chopper to smash downward and gouge a hole in the ground. The car came to rest on its roof. Just seconds later, the video shows prisoners and BCSO employees alike rushing to the scene.
Members of the Mountain Home fire and police departments were joined by personnel from the Arkansas State Police and Baxter Regional Medical Center responding to the chaotic scene which drew dozens of onlookers.
As emergency personnel worked to remove Ivie from the vehicle, a firefighter used a hose to dilute fuel spilling at the scene in order to prevent a fire. Once freed, Ivie was transported to BRMC.
ASP trooper Jackie Stinnett is investigating the accident and said it was unknown what caused Ivie to drive in such an erratic manner.
The two helicopters struck in the accident likely are total losses, according to Sheriff John Montgomery. The department's pilot, Benny Magness, was evaluating the damage.
A third helicopter in the yard, though nearby, apparently escaped all but minor damage. Montgomery said while his office paid the state approximately $1,300 for the two helicopters, their value is much greater, well in excess of $50,000.
The helicopters were surplus bought at state auction for a significantly reduced price since they were purchased by another governmental agency. Both of the recently purchased helicopters were struck in the accident.
Montgomery said his department had planned to refurbish one of the damaged helicopters to make it the agency's primary aircraft.
"Of course, now we can't do that," Montgomery said, looking at the accident scene. "The other one we were using for parts. They both appear to be total losses."
The department's primary helicopter was inside a nearby hangar.