Authorities: Pilot dies in NJ helicopter crash

Associated Press
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Wreckage burns after a small helicopter crashed in a cornfield, killing the pilot, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in West Windsor, N.J. It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, but township police Lt. Robert Garofalo said several people reported that a flock of birds appeared to make contact with the helicopter shortly before it crashed. He said authorities were still investigating those reports Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Brian McCarthy)

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. (AP) — The pilot of a small helicopter who was killed when it crashed Saturday in a central New Jersey cornfield has been identified as a retired city police officer from the New York Police Department.

New Jersey police identified the man as 65-year-old Michael Scarfia of Staten Island, N.Y.

They say Scarfia again demonstrated dedication to others when he diverted his failing helicopter into the field in West Windsor and away from crowded shopping malls.

Scarfia apparently was the only person on board. The twin-engine helicopter burst into flames upon impact. The cause of the crash is being investigated.