Sheriff's helicopter finds plane, tracks down suspect in same weekend

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by KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on September 21, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 22 at 11:00 AM

SPOKANE COUNTY-- The new Spokane County Sheriff’s helicopter is becoming a huge tool to catch suspects, but this weekend it was also used to find the wreckage for a downed airplane in North Idaho. KREM 2 News obtained the video from aboard the chopper. 

The helicopter has only been in the air for about four years and authorities say it has already paid dividends. From tracking down suspects running across I-90 near downtown Spokane, to finding the scene of a plane crash south of Coeur d’Alene, it’s Air One that takes the call.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Corporal Dave Ellis says Air One made a difficult situation a little bit better because they could quickly identify the scene, confirm there were no survivors, and was then able to direct all ground units to the location before it became too dark.

Friday evening, an emergency beacon going off in the private plane alerted authorities. While crews searched the ground, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department asked for Air One to join in on the search. Within 30 minutes of lifting off from Felts Field, the crew located the wreckage, landed, put out a small fire and search for survivors. Sadly, what they found were the bodies of a father and son from Wyoming.  Without Air One crews could have been spending two days in dangerous terrain. 

Then, early Sunday morning, ground patrol crews had to back off when a suspect drove the wrong way on I-90, stopped, and took off from his car. Air One kept the spotlight on him. It wasn’t long before officers arrested Nathan Mitchel. 

The Sheriff’s Office flies Air One for five hours a week during peak times of crime. The crew happened to be up when that pursuit happened.

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