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Man dies in helicopter crash after performing an emergency landing on a busy Florida road

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Carl Lisciandrello
Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.

A 72-year-old Bradenton man was killed Thursday afternoon when he was struck by the rotor of a helicopter that attempted to make an emergency landing on a busy Tampa road.

The Florida Highway Patrol late Thursday night released the names of the pilot, co-pilot, and two men in a pickup truck who were struck by the blue Robinson R44 helicopter, which was en route to Sarasota when it crashed near the intersection of S 50th Street and Palm River Road after it suffered catastrophic engine failure, according to Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister.

Deodat Persaud Gangapersaud, of Plant City, was a passenger in the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, which was traveling northbound on S 50th Street just before 2:30 p.m. when the helicopter crashed while making a “hard landing” and crashing into a telephone pole, Chronister said. One of the rotor blades flew off and struck the pickup, killing Gangapersaud at the scene, troopers said.

The helicopter pilot was identified as Bryan Thomas Messick, 38, of Bradenton, and his co-pilot was Joshua James Wells, 21, of Pinellas Park. Neither were injured, according to troopers.

The driver of the pickup truck, 35-year-old Ryan Anthony Persaud of Dover, was not injured but was taken to Tampa General Hospital as a precaution, according to troopers.

Chronister said Messick ws “highly trained” and the helicopter had just been serviced, passed several tests and was deemed to be functioning properly.

The National Transportation Safety Board will send investigators to the site to start examining the helicopter crash, Chronister said.

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