FORT LAUDERDALE -- A Broward Fire Rescue paramedic who was hurtin Pompano Beach last month spoke out Friday ahead of plans to file a lawsuit.
Mikael Chaguaceda, 31, told reporters that seconds felt like minutes as the helicopter fell from the sky that morning. He said he intends to file a lawsuit, seeking damages and answers about what caused the deadly crash.
Chaguaceda reflected on the catastrophic chopper crash that killed two people, including Broward Sheriff Fire, 50, his colleague and best friend.
"That mental image. That video. That impact," he said. "There's nothing I don't remember."
"Crash that did not need to happen," said Judd Rosen, his attorney as he sat next to his client in an office in downtown Miami and called for an investigation into the company or companies they believe were involved in replacing the helicopter's air conditioning unit. "Whoever was involved in that work needs to be held accountable."
On Aug. 28, shortly before 9 in the morning, the twin-engine Broward County Fire-Rescue helicopter took off from Pompano Beach Air Park to respond to an emergency call.
After hearing a loud boom during the initial climb, Chaguaceda feared the worst.
"Lots of funny noises were going on," he said. "The smell of fire. We never heard anything like that, so, we knew it was catastrophic."
Witness video showed smoke funneling out as the chopper flew back to the air park. During the chopper's return, he remembered hearing a second boom.
"The tail rotor instantly snapped off," Chaguaceda said. "And even though those spins must have been a couple seconds, they felt like minutes. Every single thought I had was my son, my family. How is this going to be explained to my son."
The chopper crashed into the roof of an apartment building, killing Jackson, who lived in the building.
"It's what I think about every single day that goes by," said Chaguaceda, who along with pilot Daron Roche survived the crash.
"Inside the cabin, we were full of heavy smoke," Chaguaceda said. "I couldn't see my hand. I didn't know where up from down was."
Witness video shows he and Roche crawling from the wreckage to safety.
"Craziest pain of my life," said Chaguaceda. "Wind knocked out of me (and could) barely even breathe."
His attorney plans to file a lawsuit against companies suspected of negligence relating to the crash caused by what they say was a mechanical failure.
The FAA and NTSB are investigating and issued a preliminary report two weeks ago, detailing the pilot's account.
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