Personal Injury

Helicopter Crash Leaves Gwinnett Police Officer Paraplegic

helicopter crash Gwinett County GA Police image by WSB TV 375x210 Helicopter Crash Leaves Gwinnett Police Officer ParaplegicAuthorities continue to investigate the cause of a Sept. 1 police helicopter crash in Lawrenceville, Georgia that injured two officers.

The helicopter crash occurred as Cpl. Michael Duncan, 46, and Officer George McLain, 38, were maneuvering the aircraft for a landing at Briscoe Field in Lawrenceville. The men had been called out to assist in a search for a wanted person and they were returning because of a storm moving into the area.

Investigators believe heavy wind may have thrown the helicopter out of control, causing it to land on its side.

Cpl. Duncan, an 11-year veteran of the Gwinnett County Police Department, was co-piloting the helicopter. According to a GoFundMe page set up for the family, Cpl. Duncan realized as he was trapped in the aircraft that “he could not feel or move his legs.”

He was taken to Gwinnett Medical where he underwent hours of surgery to his damaged back. Although the helicopter crash left Cpl. Duncan a paraplegic, surgeons found his spinal cord was not severed but damaged, leaving open the possibility that he can regain some functions below the waist. He continues to recover at the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta where he undergoes rehabilitation therapy to be “as independent as possible,” a police department release noted.

In addition to being a police officer and pilot, Cpl. Duncan is also a former member of the SWAT team serving on both Entry and Sniper units and a former Marine, according to the GoFundMe page.

The online fundraising effort was launched to help the Duncans convert their farmhouse into a wheelchair accessible home. The page notes that the old farmhouse, which the Duncans restored, has narrow hallways and multiple levels, requiring major renovations.

Officer McLain also suffered a back injury in the helicopter crash and is expected to make a full recovery.