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COPTER CRASH-LANDS AT GOLF COURSE GREEN; Players run for lives after freak accident.

Byline: ANN LUCEY and FIONA WYNNE

A GROUP of golfers had to run for their lives after a helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing by their course.

The party of men and women had a miracle escape when the two-seater went out of control above the 11th green at Dooks Golf Club in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry.

The helicopter crash-landed on the sand just yards away from the hole but the force of the landing sent dangerous debris flying in all directions. One golfer said stopping off at the rest room may have saved their lives.

She said: "We couldn't believe what was happening. We could have been killed.

"We were heading for the ladies' tee box on the 11th green. Thankfully we decided to stop off and then we heard a loud bang.

"We could see just in front of us a helicopter was landing on the sand.

"Blade and debris were flying everywhere and cutting dints on the grass.

"If we had continued on God only knows what would have happened."

A party of male golfers who were playing nearby got such a fright they abandoned their game and headed straight for the clubhouse bar.

One of them said: "We are used to helicopters flying overhead. We thought this one was actually going to land on the 11th because it was hovering in a strange way.

"It appeared to have engine trouble and was going sideways. But a strong wind blew it out on to the beach a few yards away."

A tractor and Land Rover arrived within minutes for the clean-up operation.

Local butcher Timothy Sheahan, who runs the helicopter, said it was not a write-off after the accident.

He added: "Its condition is not bad at all, it is a long way from a write off."

He refused to say who was piloting the helicopter at the time, but confirmed no one was injured in the incident.

An Irish Aviation Authority spokesman confirmed the rescue centre at Shannon received a 999 call on Saturday.

He said a British-registered Enstrom 280 FX had to land because of engine trouble. The accident will be investigated by the Transport Department.

CAPTION(S):

TWO-SEATER: Heliopter similar to the one in crash
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 9, 2003
Words:372
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