A police helicopter flying low over Atlanta on a nighttime search for a missing 9-year-old boy plunged to the ground in a busy northwest neighborhood of shops and apartments, killing the two officers aboard. Both officers died on impact in the crash about 10:30pm yesterday, but no one was hurt on the ground. "It appeared to hit the utility wire on the way down," a police spokesman said. But he emphasized: "We don't know what caused it," and referred all queries to the Federal Aviation Administration, which was just opening its investigation.
"The tail end went down and then there was an explosion," said a witness. "As soon as I got close enough to it, poom! It exploded." He added of the helicopter's occupants: "They could not survive it." The names of the dead were withheld early today while relatives were notified. "Losing an officer is the most difficult thing a police chief can face," Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said. "Losing two is an unthinkable tragedy." Police said the helicopter was called in after police received a report shortly after 9pm of a missing child. The boy was later found unharmed. (Read more helicopter crash stories.)