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Bloomsburg Fair Officials Consider Helicopter Ban After Crash

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. — Officials are still trying to figure out why a helicopter crashed at the Bloomsburg Fair, sending three people to the hospital. The fair...

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- Officials are still trying to figure out why a helicopter crashed at the Bloomsburg Fair, sending three people to the hospital. The fair's president says he does not want to see the attraction at the fair next year.

The crashed helicopter was removed from the parking lot Sunday along with most of the damaged vehicles.

The pilot, Kenny Cordrey, 68, of Delmar, Delaware, is listed in critical condition.

According to Bloomsburg police, a pilot and two passengers were inside the helicopter when it crashed around 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Jennifer Zielewicz, 42, of Trout Run, and Maria Portalatin, 33, of Williamsport, were treated and released from the hospital.

Members of the Seesholtz family were leaving the fair and were minutes away from coming out to the parking lot when the helicopter crashed.

"We sat there on a bench for two hours waiting to see what was going to happen until we finally called our son-in-law to come and get us," Bob Seesholtz said.

Bob and Sue Seesholtz of the Bloomsburg area were parked in the C Lot, which is used by fair members and vendors. Theirs was one of nearly a dozen vehicles damaged.

"It was just a car, and we just have to get it fixed," he added.

The helicopter that crashed was an attraction at the fair. It takes off from the parking area and gives a short tour around the fair and surrounding area. In 2013, a pilot from a different company was killed when he was hit in the head with a spinning blade.

"My recommendation is that we do not bring any more aircraft back to the Bloomsburg Fair. Two times, third could be a disaster," said Paul Reichart, Bloomsburg Fair president.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what went wrong.

Reichart says the fair provided people whose vehicles were damaged with rental cars.

"It's very important to us. They are our customers and we want to do the best we can, no question," Reichart said.

Stephen Mackes of Blakeslee was ready to leave the fair on his motorcycle. He saw a helicopter hovering about 100 feet away.

"'Why is he hovering above the cars like that?' Then I saw it spin around a couple of times and then I saw it was going down and I knew it wouldn't recover. That's when I yelled for everybody to watch out. It went down on its left side and then the propeller kicked in and started shredding cars," Mackes recalled.

Mackes helped the victims get out of the wreckage.

"I broke the glass away, and he was making good progress crawling out, so that's when I went back and got the girl out."

Mackes tells Newswatch 16 he wasn't thinking at the time, he just acted. He wanted to get the people out in case the helicopter caught fire.

"You could smell the fumes of the fuel. It was heavy in the air, so I figured, get them out."

Mackes doesn't want to speculate on the cause of the crash but says the pilot should be commended.

"He was able to hover that down to car height and almost land on the cars. Then he landed on one side and the blade kicked in and started throwing pieces everywhere, but they only fell probably 10 feet."