LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. - No flooding victim should have to pay to be rescued, but a YouTube video purports to show a private helicopter crew asking a Larimer County couple to pay to be flown to safety.
The video embedded below was posted to YouTube on Sept. 14, but it appears to have been reposted several times.
It shows a man in a helicopter flight suit answering questions from a man holding a video camera as the rotors of a red chopper spin in the background. The man in the flight suit was identified by 7NEWS as Dennis Pierce, owner of Colorado Heli-Ops in Broomfield.
As the video starts, it appears Pierce is trying to make his way back to the helicopter. He turns back when the cameraman asks a question.
"Wait, how much is it?"
"It'd be about $1,200 bucks," Pierce responds.
"For both of us?"
"Yeah. We could probably take two out at a time," Pierce answers.
"Yeah, it doesn't matter," Pierce said.
"Because this is an emergency."
"You know, there's people that are on oxygen, people that are hurt. That's an emergency," Pierce said.
At this point, a woman chimes in. 7NEWS has identified her as Tina Anderson.
Pierce says it was Anderson's waiving that caused his helicopter to land as they were taking photos of damage for a utility company.
In an interview with the CALL7 Investigators, Anderson explains that she had called 911 to ask for her evacuation to be accelerated because she was anxious to make contact with her parents. She was excited when a helicopter finally landed.
"I got over the fence and I said, 'Are you here to take me out?' And he says -- he hands me a bottle of water -- and his calling card, his business card and it said Heli-Ops on it. I said, 'Are you here to take me out?' and he said, 'Yes ma'am, it'll be $1,200.'"
Pierce told the CALL7 Investigators the video is "totally bogus," but agreed he was the man seen in the recording.
"He was baiting for a blog," Pierce said of the man who was holding the camera.
Larimer County Sheriff's spokesman John Schulz said the department is aware of the incident. While nothing apparently illegal took place, Schulz said no one should have to be put in that situation.
"The National Guard in Larimer County was conducting rescues of the people in the floods," Schulz said. "They do not need to pay anyone to be rescued."