Source AP ©

Filming for boating magazine turns into crash

A helicopter with three people onboard shooting video for a boating magazine crashed in the Gulf of Mexico near Sarasota on Tuesday.

The helicopter went down in about 20 feet (6 meters) of water around 10 a.m., said Sarasota County Fire Department Assistant Chief Paul Dezzi.

Shortly before the crash, the helicopter had been flying close to a boat that the crew was videotaping, but it was not clear what caused it to go down, sheriff's Lt. Chuck Lesaltato said.

"One witness said the helicopter came close to the water and somehow flipped," Lesaltato said. "Debris from the helicopter hit the boat."

Two men on the helicopter were pronounced dead after arriving on shore, Lesaltato said. A third man was flown by helicopter to a hospital in St. Petersburg. A hospital spokeswoman declined to release his condition until his family could be notified.

The operator and a model on the boat were unhurt.

Dick Hendricks, executive vice president of Powerboat magazine's parent firm, Ehlert Publishing Group, said the company was still trying to find out who was involved in the crash. He said the magazine had several employees and freelance contractors in southwest Florida working on a weeklong series of boat tests.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been called in to investigate.