2 die in helicopter crash

HOUSTON - Two people died when a small helicopter crashed in northeast Harris County on Monday.

Harris County sheriff's deputies said the crash happened at a steel yard near the intersection of the Crosby Freeway near Miller Road #3 about 3:30 p.m.

The helicopter exploded shortly after impact, officials said.

"When it hit, smoke came up. I ran about 20 feet and then it exploded," witness Jose Escamilla said. "The guys I talked to, when it hit, they were still breathing, the were moving around and then it exploded. That's the information that I got. By the time that I got to it, they were already engulfed in flames already."

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, two people were killed. They were identified as Christopher Yeager, 40, of Houston, and Joyce Ates, 60, of Midwest City, Oklahoma.

"All of us are just looking for the facts. What are the facts of what we document the damage to the aircraft," said Tom Latson of the NTSB.

He told Local 2, "We will do a complete wreckage examination. We will probably remove the wreckage, including the engine, to a secure storage location probably up to the Dallas area."

Latson said the helicopter is operated by Helicopter Services Incorporated out of Hooks Airport in Spring. Latson said it was possibly on a photography flight.

Latson said he will return to the crash site to continue his investigation Tuesday morning.

Investigators said the single-engine Robinson R-22 helicopter was flying from the Baytown area to the Houston area when the crash happened.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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