Man Leaps to His Death During Helicopter Ride

Gregory McFadden plunged 500 to 750 feet into Pacific Ocean
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2013 8:21 AM CST
Not the helicopter in question.   (©)

(Newser) – A Newport Beach fisherman witnessed a terrifying sight yesterday: A 61-year-old man plunging hundreds of feet to his death in the Pacific Ocean. Gregory McFadden booked a helicopter tour of the coast for $310, then, per the FAA, opened the door mid-flight and jumped out. "I saw the door open. I thought it was a bird," the fisherman tells KCAL9. Then he made out the man's legs. McFadden fell between 500 and 750 feet, based on reports, and landed in the water about 45 feet from shore; he was pulled out by rescuers but died later at a hospital.

The helicopter pilot's dad says that based on what police have told him, his son struggled with McFadden as he was attempting to jump, the Los Angeles Times reports. He adds that McFadden was making requests that struck his son as odd: that the pilot fly along the shore, and fly higher. "When they got towards the Balboa Pier, he started to take his seat belt off and he started to open the door. My son said, 'What are you doing? What are you doing?'" and ripped his shirt while trying to stop him. Police reportedly found a suicide note, and McFadden's brother says the man was battling both depression and throat disease. Police and the FAA are investigating the incident as a possible suicide. (Read more helicopter stories.)

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