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Pima County set to unveil new rescue helicopter

Pima County set to unveil new rescue helicopter

CREATED Sep 19, 2012

Web Producer: Rikki Mitchell

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Pima County will unveil a new helicopter to be used in search and rescue operations next week, according to officials with the county.

The helicopter, The American Eurocopter AS350B3e, will be introduced to the community at 10 a.m. on September 24.

It will be unveiled at the Kino Sports Complex at 2500 E. Ajo Way.

The helicopter will support law enforcement personnel from the bomb squad and SWAT and will also be used to help extinguish fires. It will be the County's first rescue-capable helicopter.

Previously, Pima County relied on helicopters from the Arizona Department of Public Safety or the military, depending on availability.

This helicopter will replace a different model that crashed in January, 2011 northwest of Tucson.

Three people were injured in that crash and the pilot, Loren Leonberger was killed. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Pima County bought the helicopter using funds from an insurance settlement from the crash, federal grant funding for urban area with potential terrorism threats and about $1 million in racketeering funds.