Four people, including an infant patient, avoided life-threatening injuries when a medical helicopter crashed in a residential neighborhood near Philadelphia on Tuesday, according to the authorities, who called the outcome a “miracle.”
The helicopter was carrying the pediatric patient to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia around 1 p.m. when emergency responders said they received reports that the aircraft was in distress.
The helicopter crashed next to a church in the residential neighborhood of Drexel Hill in Upper Darby Township, Pa., which is west of Philadelphia.
The aircraft came to rest on its side, avoiding power lines and any structural damage to the Drexel Hill United Methodist Church.
The authorities said that all four people aboard, including the pilot, co-pilot and a nurse, were able to get out of the wreckage of the helicopter. No one on the ground was hurt, they said.
“It’s an absolute miracle,” Timothy M. Bernhardt, the superintendent of the Upper Darby Township Police Department, said at a news conference at the scene of the crash.
The helicopter, a Eurocopter EC135, is owned by Air Methods, an air medical service based in Greenwood Village, Colo., and is part of a LifeNet emergency program that operates out of Hagerstown, Md., Doug Flanders, a spokesman for Air Methods, said in an email on Tuesday. LifeNet carries pediatric and adult patients from south-central Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland to hospitals in that region, according to Air Methods.
Mr. Flanders said federal investigators were en route to the accident scene.
“Our team will cooperate fully with their efforts to assess the cause of this unfortunate accident,” he said. “Privacy rights with regards to those on board the aircraft will be honored, and we will not be sharing any additional information.”
Emergency responders did not immediately say what caused the crash, which they noted would prompt an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The F.A.A. did not immediately respond. A spokeswoman for the N.T.S.B. said the agency was investigating but did not comment further.
Officials at the scene said that the flight had originated from out of state, but they did not say where.
“We want to express our sincere gratitude to the pilot and first responders for their swift and heroic efforts in safely evacuating all those on board,” Madeline Bell, the president and chief executive of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a statement. “Our thoughts and support are with all those involved in today’s accident and their families.”