A Eurocopter AS355 Twin Ecureuil helicopter crashed on a hill near Robledo de Chavela, a town on the outskirts of Madrid, on March 5, 2023.
The helicopter was operating for the Spanish General Traffic Directorate (“Dirección General de Tráfico”, or “DGT”, the government agency responsible for traffic monitoring on Spain’s roads) and is equipped with radar and optical equipment to monitor road traffic.
Images appeared on Spanish social media accounts showing the wreckage of the helicopter, with firemen and emergency workers working around it. The two crew members that were onboard appeared to have been lightly injured.
The helicopter, registered EC-JMK, was 17 years old and had been in service with the DGT since 2006. It appears to have crashed while trying to perform an emergency landing.
Although the exact cause of the accident is not yet known, the story took an unexpected turn when it was revealed that the pilot, an employee of Spain’s Ministry of the Interior, had tested positive for cocaine and methamphetamine consumption.
According to Spanish media reports, the pilot reportedly tried to leave the scene of the accident as soon as the emergency services arrived. However, he was later found and arrested by officers of the Guardia Civil (Spain’s gendarmerie force) in a nearby village. The pilot was subsequently charged for endangering air safety.
The other crewmember was operating the helicopter’s cameras and, after receiving first aid at the crash site, was taken to a hospital in Madrid to be treated from minor injuries.