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Local News

Westmont Graduates, Pilot Recovering After Hope Ranch Helicopter Crash

All 3 aboard a tour helicopter were hospitalized after aircraft went down near La Cumbre Country Club

Westmont alumni Courtney Crosby and Turner Conrad were listed in fair condition at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Monday, recuperating from injuries suffered Saturday when the helicopter they were riding in crashed at La Cumbre Country Club. Pilot Michael Ower was released from the hospital. Click to view larger
Westmont alumni Courtney Crosby and Turner Conrad were listed in fair condition at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Monday, recuperating from injuries suffered Saturday when the helicopter they were riding in crashed at La Cumbre Country Club. Pilot Michael Ower was released from the hospital. (Facebook photo)

The pilot and two passengers of a tour helicopter that crashed in Hope Ranch on Friday are recovering from the ordeal after being taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Michael Ower, the owner of Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours, was released from the hospital by Monday, said Cottage spokeswoman Maria Zate.

The two Westmont alumni traveling with him, Courtney Crosby and Turner Conrad, were listed in fair condition.

The trio were hospitalized with moderate injuries after the helicopter, which had toured Santa Barbara’s harbor and downtown area, went down near the La Cumbre Country Club at 4015 Via Laguna Drive near Santa Barbara.

The three were able to extricate themselves from the wrecked aircraft, which caught on fire after a fuel spill caused by the crash.

Westmont College President Gayle Beebe told attendees of Saturday’s graduation that Crosby, a graduating senior and volleyball player, missed the day’s commencement ceremony due to a surgery to repair several injured vertebrae, but that she was expected to fully recover.

Westmont spokesman Scott Craig told Noozhawk that a family member of Conrad, Crosby’s boyfriend who graduated in 2016, had told him both “are doing OK,” but need rest and rehabilitation.

The R44 Robinson helicopter was owned by Spitzer Helicopter, a Riverside County company, and leased to Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours, which is based at the Santa Barbara Airport.

Capt. Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department told Noozhawk that the chopper had finished its tour and was headed back to the airport when it encountered mechanical problems.

Ower told the airport tower it was going down, Zaniboni said.

It then crash-landed in a maintenance area of La Cumbre Country Club, skidding into several vehicles in a parking lot.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident, was still pending on Monday afternoon.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Three people were injured Saturday when a R44 Robinson helicopter operated by Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours crashed at La Cumbre Country Club after developing mechanical problems. Click to view larger
Three people were injured Saturday when a R44 Robinson helicopter operated by Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours crashed at La Cumbre Country Club after developing mechanical problems. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo )
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