A helicopter that crashed yards from a school last month struck a lamppost as the pilot was trying to land, investigators said today.
Two bystanders suffered minor injuries after the US-registered aircraft went out of control next to the old Neptune Hotel, at Bettystown, Co Meath.
The pilot and sole occupant escaped with his life despite the helicopter, which had no technical faults, being completely destroyed in the crash.
A preliminary report by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) found the Sikorsky S-76B had landed on the nearby beach to let two passengers off, on Friday, September 18.
But after the pilot became concerned at sightseers gathering around the helicopter he took off again to land in the car park of the former hotel, which now houses the Coláiste na hInse school.
As it was descending, the main rotor at the left-hand rear side hit a six-metre lamppost before veering out of control into a low wall and plunging into the ground.
The helicopter burst into flames with debris striking two bystanders but the pilot managed to escape without serious injury.
The AAIU investigation is ongoing.