State fish biologists injured in South Umpqua River helicopter crash

Authorities have identified two state fish biologists who were injured when the helicopter they were flying in during aerial salmon spawning-ground surveys crashed in the South Umpqua River shortly before noon today.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Holly Huchko suffered a broken back and ODFW habitat biologist Eric Himmelreich broke two vertebrae in the 11:41 a.m. crash in the 1300 block of Tiller Trail Highway. Both were taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, where they remained hospitalized this evening, according to the ODFW.

The identity of the injured pilot has yet to be released. Earlier news reports said the man who was piloting the Bell Jet Ranger was airlifted from the Days Creek Charter School football field to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield.

Veteran biologists Huchko, 34, and Himmelreich, 35, were conducting fall chinook salmon spawning surveys in the South Umpqua by flying over the river in a helicopter contracted for the work, according to Larry Cooper, the ODFW's regional manager. Both work out of the ODFW's Roseburg office.

— Mark Freeman

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