Helicopter crashes into Cedar Lake in northwest Indiana

Cate Cauguiran Image
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Helicopter crashes into Indiana lake
A Lake County, Indiana helicopter crash happened on Monday. The helicopter crashed into Cedar Lake.

LAKE COUNTY, Ind. (WLS) -- A helicopter crashed into a lake in northwest Indiana on Monday afternoon.

The crash happened in Cedar Lake in Lake County at about 2 p.m. Officials said the Robinson R22 helicopter crashed into the south end of the lake between 140th and 145th avenues.

On a picture-perfect day, many in Cedar Lake were taking in the lakefront views, and the whole scene playing out in front of neighbors' eyes. Two people jumped out of the helicopter to safety as the crash happened.

"We heard a thud, like a splash really loud, going down in the lake," said David Crane. "When we got down here, we seen some jet skis pulling somebody out of the water."

"It was scary at first, we were like, 'Oh, no. Are they okay?!' Like, my heart dropped," Kenli Crane added.

A spokesperson with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said, thankfully, no one was injured.

"It was discovered that two individuals in the helicopter, both of them had swam to shore, and were okay and uninjured," said Indiana DNR Conservation Officer Alex Neel.

One mother and daughter, Alena and Cindi Layman, said they were on their family's boat in the lake waters when the helicopter came crashing down right in front of them.

"We just keep seeing it get lower and lower," Alena said. "Then, it hit the the water, and then start spinning."

The helicopter crashed just yards from the Laymans.

"We saw it like, 'Oh, what are they doing? They are getting closer. Oh, my God, where are they going to land?'" Cindi said. "It spun twice, down, and then you saw two heads pop up, and that's when you gasped for air, 'Oh, my God. Okay, there's two people.'"

The sounds of a low-flying helicopter caught Joyce Gluth's attention.

"I just heard the helicopter, and it sounded pretty low and I thought they were looking for someone," Gluth said.

After the two people onboard the helicopter were taken to safety, crews in the water shifted their focus to containing any leakage from the submerged helicopter. They set up a buoy boom perimeter around the crash site before they were able to hoist the aircraft from from the lake.

"If they would have landed in the street or landed in a house then it could have been really a disaster," Gluth said. "It was pretty busy when this happened. There were boats and jet skis going all over, and it's amazing that they didn't impact any of them on their way down."

Neighbors said they grateful no one was injured and that their community stepped up to help. The cause of the crash is not yet clear. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

Robert Summers, the owner of Summerskyz Inc., which based in central Illinois, confirmed that the helicopter is one of theirs. Summers said the helicopter has since been moved to the Chicago area as part of the investigation.

Summers said Summerskyz is thankful the two people who were onboard are okay, and the company is cooperating with all authorities involved in the investigation.

Summers could not confirm if either of the two individuals on board were students part of their helicopter flight training school. He said everything is preliminary at this point.