Eyewitness Describes Fatal Helicopter Crash

“All of a sudden the blades broke off," Joe Enhuei said. "One of the blades split into two or three pieces and then another intact blade hit the broken pieces.”


The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to issue a report on the helicopter crash that killed Michael Scarfia, 65, in West Windsor last week, but one eyewitness tells Patch about what he saw that day.

Joe Enhuei, said he washing his car in his driveway on Haskell Drive in West Windsor, when he heard and saw a helicopter flying northwest over his Princeton Chase development towards Princeton. It was a windy day and the wind was coming from the northwest, he said.

The helicopter was blue with a yellow stripe along the side. He estimates it was flying at an elevation of roughly 1,500-2,000 feet.

“I didn't see anything special or different until it was probably less than a mile away from me,” Enhuei said. “All of a sudden the blades broke off. One of the blades split into two or three pieces and then another intact blade hit the broken pieces.”

Enhuei, an engineer, was shocked.

“That plane is a mid-size helicopter with two engines,” he said. “Normally if a plane is well-maintained it doesn’t happen like this. Small planes sometimes have problems, but not helicopters.”

After the rotors fell, Enhuei saw the helicopter pitch upwards, then roll to the left.

“Then it pretty much plunged to the ground almost vertically,” he said. ”I heard an explosion first, then I heard the impact.”

Two or three seconds after the plane began to fall, Enhuei heard a high-pitched explosion below the tree line. A second later, he heard the plane hit the ground.

“After the impact, I saw a plume of smoke rising up,” he said

Scarfia, of Staten Island, was piloting a Aerospatiale AS355 twin-engine helicopter. He crashed into cornfields on the former American Cyanamid Agricultural Research Facility property in West Windsor along Quaker Bridge Road.

Enhuei has read reports that the plane was headed from Princeton to Atlantic City, which he finds surprising because he watched the plane fly in the opposite direction towards Princeton.

He said small planes sometimes fly over his development, but helicopters usually follow a corridor along Route 1 or they fly a flight path to the east.

“My belief is it was some sort of mechanical problem,” Enhuei said.

Authorities said Scarfia did not report any trouble or make any emergency transmissions.

The NTSB is investigating the crash and is expected to release its findings within six to 12 months.

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