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Lucky to be alive: 2 survive midair collision

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:52 AM EST, Mon February 20, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The helicopter pilot is "very lucky to be able to walk away," a fire official says
  • The helicopter crashes between San Francisco and Sacramento
  • The plane lands near Byron Airport, south of the helicopter crash

(CNN) -- Two pilots in northern California were lucky to be alive Monday after they escaped a midair collision without serious injuries.

A helicopter clipped a small plane in the skies over northern California on Sunday evening, sending both crashing to the ground, CNN affiliate KCRA reported, citing the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.

The collision snapped off the helicopter's tail, but firefighters found the pilot sitting in the car of a driver who had stopped to help, the station said.

"She was a little shaken up, but she was completely with it," said Capt. Brandon Wilson of the Rio Vista Fire Department. "Initially, she didn't want to go to the hospital.

"The person that was flying it was very lucky -- very lucky -- to walk away pretty much uninjured."

The helicopter, a Robinson R22, went down about eight miles south of the Rio Vista Airport, between San Francisco and Sacramento. It collided with a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza, which landed near Byron Airport, some 20 miles to the south, said Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Footage of the helicopter showed it resting in a field. KCRA said its severed tail rotor landed about 50 feet away from the fuselage.

The plane's pilot was not injured.

"Absolutely a best-case scenario, very lucky for everybody involved," Wilson said.

CNN's Greg Morrison and Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report

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