Longview police: Car prowler tried to take off with Life Flight - KPTV - FOX 12

Longview police: Car prowler tried to take off with Life Flight chopper

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After hearing reports of a car prowler near the helipad at St. John’s Medical Center in Longview, crews of the Life Flight helicopter discovered someone had been in the craft trying to start it up. (KPTV) After hearing reports of a car prowler near the helipad at St. John’s Medical Center in Longview, crews of the Life Flight helicopter discovered someone had been in the craft trying to start it up. (KPTV)
Police said they found Bradley English, 24, with purse stolen from a car parked at the hospital garage and a helmet taken from the helicopter. (Lane County Sheriff’s Office) Police said they found Bradley English, 24, with purse stolen from a car parked at the hospital garage and a helmet taken from the helicopter. (Lane County Sheriff’s Office)
LONGVIEW, WA (KPTV) -

Longview police say a suspected car prowler wasn’t satisfied just targeting cars, so he broke into a Life Flight helicopter and tried to start it up.

The attempted theft happened at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center, where a Life Flight helicopter rests on the helipad on top of the hospital’s parking garage. According to investigators, after breaking into a car the suspect set his sights on the chopper.

The local life flight crew still can’t believe it.

“It’s really unusual,” pilot Peter Higgs-Coulthard said. “I’ve never heard of anyone trying to steal a helicopter. Especially a medical helicopter.”

At 6:00 a.m. Sunday, hospital security guards alerted police that someone was prowling cars in the parking structure.

When officers arrived, they detained 24-year-old Bradley English. Among the stash of items he had with him was a purse that officers said he stole from a woman’s car and a flight helmet.

Police soon realized that English took the helmet from the Life Flight chopper and that he had been inside the aircraft.

The crew immediately took the helicopter out of service and discovered that English had allegedly tampered with the throttle and several overhead switches.

Crew members think he was trying to start the engine, but Higgs-Coulthard said unless someone has specialized helicopter training, there’s no way they can actually start one up and fly away.

“There’s a specific sequence that everything has to be done in, in order for the aircraft to start,” he said. ”It’s not like jumping in a car, putting the key in, starting it and off you go.”

English was booked into jail on several charges including theft and tampering with an emergency aircraft.

The helicopter went through a thorough inspection and now it is back in service.

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