GRANGER, Texas — The Department of Public Safety identified the two people killed in a fiery helicopter crash Tuesday afternoon after clipping a power line in rural Williamson County.
DPS identified the victims as Michael Hawley, a 58-year-old pilot from Dothan, Alabama, and Ahmed Khawaldeh, a 27-year-old military pilot from Amman, Jordan.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Hughes H369FF helicopter carrying two people crashed near Granger about 15 miles east of Georgetown Municipal Airport at 12:45 p.m. The helicopter had departed from Georgetown shortly before 12:15 p.m.
Texas Highway Patrol reported the crash happened in a field off of County Road 389. The victims were confirmed as the pilot and co-pilot. Preliminary reports show that the helicopter hit a power line and crashed into a field before it went up in flames, FAA said.
The Jordanian military released a statement Wednesday confirming that First Lt. Ahmed Ali Mohammed Khalif al-Khawaldeh was killed in the crash in Texas while he was flying with an American pilot, presumed to be Hawley.
As authorities worked on the scene, Oncor Electric confirmed to KVUE that 29 customers in the surrounding area were experiencing power outages due to the crash.
“They weren’t able to get to the helicopter for safety reasons because the power line was connected to the helicopter, it was on fire," Williamson County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Patricia Gutierrez said. "It took a bit for ONCOR to get on site and handle all that — make sure the power was out so our deputies could get up to the helicopter, to the scene, securely.”
Phillip Wagner, who has lived in the area near CR 389 for 14 years, told KVUE he was in his house, heard sirens and came outside to see what had happened.
"Saw big, black billowing smoke," Wagner said. "Pretty much figured it was probably -- I thought it was an airplane. We have a lot of air traffic around here, people looking at the lake. Sometimes stunt pilots are out here practicing, doing their loop-de-loops and that kind of stuff. I just assumed it was a plane that went down.”
FAA investigators are on their way to the crash site, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation.