Small helicopter crashes into Odessa home

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A helicopter pilot is in stable condition after crashing into a home.  He has been identified as 51-year-old Bradley Bates of Odessa.

It happened at about 5:30 p.m. when an experimental helicopter went out of control crashing into 9450 Roberts Road.  

No one was inside the home at the time. But witnesses heard the helicopter struggling just before, and knew right away it was going down.

"All of a sudden it started banking and losing acceleration very quickly," said Ryan Wendt, a witness to the crash. "The engine was making a very high-pitch. Instantly I knew he is going to crash, I didn't know where."
Moments later, fear became real.

"It took a quick dive and then we heard a loud bang."

Wendt had been out walking her dog. The former athletic trainer ran to 9450 Roberts and climbed the roof, finding Bates. He'd crashed less than four miles from his home.

"He kept asking to hold my hand and to comfort him and he kept telling me 'thank you, thank you.' We talked about who he was and his family."

As he slipped in and out of consciousness, he told Ryan he has children.

"He managed to pull himself from the helicopter and was screaming in pain. He was disoriented at that time."

A group of nearby workers brought over a front-loader, which they used to bring him down from the roof while they waited for first responders.

The single-seater is still lodged in the roof, and is being called an experimental helicopter one could put together by themselves. No one was in the home it crashed on at the time.

"I was looking around, didn't see anything," said Tom Peterson, who lives near the home that the chopper crashed into. "I looked straight back and you could see the tail rotor hanging over the house and then smoke coming up. That's when I called 911."

Neighbors say it was his hobby for about six months.  They heard him take off about 20 minutes before the crash.

"I just hope the best for him," said Wendt. "I hope it is an easy recovery, I hope he is not in a lot of pain. It did not look good."

Hillsborough County Fire says the FAA will investigate, and that the helicopter will not be moved until they are on scene.

Bates is at St. Joseph's in stable condition.