A maintenance man working on a helicopter in south Florida was decapitated in a freak accident Thursday after the main rotor blades suddenly jerked up and down before fatally slicing the 62-year-old man, authorities said.
Salvator Disi died Thursday near the hangars at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
Two men were using a power cart to jumpstart a helicopter when it began acting erratically – moving up and then down.
“This motion caused the main rotor blades to strike one of the men, who was working on the helicopter,” the sheriff’s office said in a written statement.
During a news conference, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis told reporters that, even though foul play is not expected, a full investigation will take place.
“Obviously a death that is a little unusual…and we want to make sure we have all the answers,” Nienhuis said. “It’s tragic that those individuals are not going to be able to give their loved one a hug again.”
In a Facebook post Thursday night, Nienhuis said Disi was a family friend.
“He was a good man,” Nienhuis wrote. “This is so tragic.”
Desi was certified to command multi-engine airline airplanes and pilot commercial helicopters. He had a drone pilot certification, was certified as a flight instructor for single- and multi-engine planes and in 2010 was certified as an advanced ground instructor.
The helicopter Desi was working on belonged to Dr. Alfred Bonati, an orthopedic surgeon at the Bonati Spine Institute in Husdon, Florida. Bonati was at the scene when the accident occurred.
The aircraft is believed to be a 1993 Bell 230 twin-engine light helicopter, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which cited Federal Aviation Administration records.