Helicopter crash victim: ‘I only bumped my head around’

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | A Mattituck man crashed his helicopter Wednesday night in a marsh at Mattituck Inlet.

A Mattituck man walked away from the scene of a helicopter crash Wednesday night with only minor injures after crash landing and flipping his aircraft in a marsh at Mattituck Inlet, Southold Town Police said.

Erwin Rodger, 68, who was the lone passenger in the crash, said he had been sightseeing at a nearby beach about an eighth of a mile away from his Eastside Avenue home earlier in the day. When he decided to fly his Ultra Lite Helicopter home, the engine wouldn’t start.

Mr. Rodger, who has been flying since the 1970s, said he then called his wife to pick him up along with the helicopter’s starter engine.

“I took it home, fixed it and then she drove me back,” he said.

Mr. Rodger said it wasn’t a mechanical malfunction that caused the crash. When he took off shortly before 8 p.m., there was low visibility and he hit the marsh, causing the air craft to flip.

“The police said I should have called, but I went home, took a bath and changed my clothes,” he said.

Mr. Rodger said he didn’t think to call the police because he believed no one was aware of the crash except him.

“No one came out,” said Mr. Rodger, whose right eye was swollen and bruised when interviewed early Thursday morning. “I only bumped my head around.”

He then returned to the scene after seeing a rescue search was under way. Police said the FAA was notified and will conduct an investigation into the crash.

Mr. Rodger said he plans to take his floating dock up to the wrecked helicopter and remove it from the marsh.

While Mr. Rodger said he’s grateful he was able to walk away from the crash, he said he’s upset that his helicopter is totalled.

“It was my pride and joy,” he said. “It was a beautiful machine and now I’m without it.”

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