Veteran pilot dies in helicopter crash - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Veteran pilot dies in helicopter crash

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Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 6:00 am

The pilot of a Pima County Sheriff’s Department helicopter died on Monday, Jan. 31, when the aircraft he was flying crashed in a remote area on the far northwest side of Tucson.

Loren Leonberger had worked as a civilian pilot for the sheriff’s department since 2008. He died when the helicopter went down in the Waterman Mountains near Avra Valley and Waterman Mountain roads.

Three other people were injured in the crash but survived.“They are all in stable condition,” said Pima County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jason Ogan.

The other victims are Edwin Nettleton, 58, Paul Panzica, 41, and Larry Sayers, 64. Nettleton and Panzica have been released from the hospital while Sayers remains in serious condition.

Nettleton is a consultant with the architecture and building company AECOM. Panzica and Sayers are county employees with the Information Technology Department.

The helicopter crashed while searching the area for possible locations to build radio-communications towers for the Pima County Wireless Integrated Network, a planned regional public safety communications system.

Ogan said the Federal Aviation Administration would investigate the cause of the crash.

Leonberger was a Vietnam veteran who also flew helicopters for the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.

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