Saturday, September 02, 2017

Pilot says man fired shotgun at him during flight

OMAHA, Neb. —  People who fly aircraft go through extensive safety training, but a Nebraska pilot says nothing could have prepared him for what happened Saturday.

Ed Gregory sprays crops for Nebraska Iowa Helicopter and was heading to work on a field east of town, but didn’t finish the trip.

“Towards the north end of the field there’s a home there and some trees, and as I was pulling up over the trees and as soon as I did I heard a bang and felt the vibration in my feet,” Gregory said.

He thought he hit something. But when he looked down he saw something had hit him.

“At that point I saw a man standing in his yard with a shotgun pointed at me. I was maybe 20 to 30 feet away from him,” he said. “I went from being mad at myself to kind of fearing for my life at that point.”

When he returned to the hangar extensive damage was found to the belly of the helicopter.

“It looks like it was a birdshot out of a shotgun,” Gregory said.

The Burt County attorney believes the man was 73-year-old Vaughn Trask. He was booked for criminal mischief and an assault charge. Hours later, he was released from jail after he paid $7,500 bail.

That doesn’t sit well with Gregory, or his employer, Trey O’Daniel.

“That’s really concerning for me because I’ve got other helicopters still working that day and I don’t want to see another one of my guys get shot at,” O’Daniel said.

Trask’s attorney said he won’t comment on the case until he reviews the sheriff’s reports. Meanwhile, O’Daniel said his business is losing thousands of dollars a day.

“We’ve got a helicopter we’ve got to get repaired, and it hasn’t been doing any work since the incident happened and it’s a huge hit to our business because we’re actually falling behind because of it,” O’Daniel said.

But they agree, it could have been much worse.

“Split second it could have been a completely different story,” Gregory said.

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