Former WHAS11 photog remembers February 2003 western Ky. chopper crash


by Doug Proffitt

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 12:04 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 19 at 12:08 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – 11 years ago, a helicopter carrying a WHAS11 news crew crashed into a lake in Western Kentucky.

They landed temporarily near Lake Malone in February 2003 because of low visibility due to the weather.

When the aircraft took off again, former photographer Heidi Theil says it was less than a minute when they were suddenly submerged in the water.

“While I can't breathe, I can’t see, I physically have no idea what happened to Kevin the pilot or George the reporter um, all I’m doing is just trying to figure out how I can get this door open before we actually hit the bottom of the lake,” Theil said.

Two people at a nearby restaurant were able to pull her out of the water after she was able to swim to the docks.

Tuesday’s chopper crash in Seattle had a definite effect on Theil.

“It's one of those things every time I see a helicopter crash in the news, I always try to stop and think and re-evaluate what's going on and particularly ones that involve the news just because you tend to be very close knit and know everybody,” she said.

Theil, reporter George Sells and pilot Kevin Jones were also able to make it to safety.

All three were treated for minor injuries.

Jones believed it was engine failure that caused the small chopper to crash.