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Helicopter pilot, student found dead after New Mexico crash

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Pilot, man he was helping to safety killed in New Mexico crash
  • NEW: Bodies found two days after wreck in mountains near Santa Fe
  • Third occupant of helicopter survived and walked to rescuers Wednesday
  • Helicopter picked up a lost hiker before the crash
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(CNN) -- Rescue teams Thursday discovered the bodies of two people killed in a helicopter crash that happened Tuesday in the mountains near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The pilot, Sgt. Andrew Tingwall, was one of two people killed in Tuesday's helicopter crash in New Mexico.

The pilot, Sgt. Andrew Tingwall, was one of two people killed in Tuesday's helicopter crash in New Mexico.

The bodies of state police officer Sgt. Andrew Tingwall and student Megumi Yamamoto were being taken to the state medical examiner's office, New Mexico State Police Chief Faron Segotta told reporters.

"Obviously, it's a very somber day," Segotta said at a news conference posted on CNN affiliate KRQE television's Web site.

Tuesday night, Tingwall and another officer, Wesley Cox, picked up Yamamoto, who was lost in the mountains, and were returning to Santa Fe when their chopper crashed into a snowy face of Santa Fe Baldy, a 12,000-foot-high peak, Segotta said. Visibility was zero because of heavy cloud cover, he said.

Tingwall was the pilot, the state's Department of Public Safety said.

Cox was able to walk to rescuers Wednesday and was airlifted to a hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia and injuries to his back and right leg. He was in serious condition Thursday at St. Vincent's Hospital in Santa Fe, said Arturo Delgado, a hospital spokesperson.

Cox told police that the helicopter landed hard and tumbled downhill, ejecting all three on board. After finding Cox, authorities were optimistic that Tingwall and Yamamoto might be alive.

Search teams discovered the wreckage Wednesday, a day before the bodies were found.

Yamamoto, of Tokyo, Japan, was a graduate student at the University of New Mexico, KRQE reported.

An online police memorial page said Tingwall had been with the state police since 1995 and had logged 1,300 hours of flying time.

Tingwall received a medal of valor after he single-handedly rescued a man from a river last summer, said Cox. Tingwall was embarrassed about receiving the medal because he felt he was only doing his job, said Cox, who said he knows Tingwall as a "tough, resourceful, friendly guy."

Cox is expected to make a full recovery, Segotta said.

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