Mesa police are trying to determine what caused an engine to fail on a police helicopter, forcing the pilot to make a hard landing.
The aircraft experienced problems while on patrol shortly before 1 a.m. near Baseline and Stapley, said Mesa police Sgt. Tony Landato.
The MD-500 helicopter "experienced a complete engine failure," Landato said.
The pilot had about 10 to 15 seconds to prepare for a hard landing in an alfalfa field, he said.
"It is a field in the middle of homes and structures all the way around," Landato said.
The impact snapped the tail end off the aircraft, Landato said.
One of the witnesses was 18-year-old Karina Rivera.
"The helicopter was coming down really fast," Rivera said. "It was kind of scary. It was right over the houses."
No one was hurt. A second officer was on board. Both pilot/officers have been with the department for more than 10 years.
The hard landing remains under investigation by the FAA and NTSB.
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