Chopper crashes searching for Eastern Oregon pot gardens

Written by The Associated Press August 13, 2013 01:37 pm

BURNS — The annual search for marijuana gardens grown by Mexican drug cartels in Eastern Oregon's Harney County got off to a rough start when a helicopter suffered engine failure and crash-landed.

The Harney County Sheriff's office said the pilot and the deputy flying with him walked away unhurt Monday. The crash was near Calamity Butte on the Malheur National Forest.

Sgt. Brian Needham says it was the first day of a federal, state and county marijuana eradication program. He says they hope to resume in a few weeks if another helicopter can be arranged.

The McDonnell Douglas 369E was being leased by the U.S. Department of Justice from PJ Helicopters of Red Bluff, Calif.

Needham says the National Transportation Safety Board is sending the engine to the manufacturer for inspection.