TECUMSEH — A veteran Oklahoma Highway Patrol pilot remained hospitalized in serious condition Saturday after his plane crashed in Pottawatomie County.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration have begun an investigation into the crash, which occurred about 7 p.m. Friday. Trooper and pilot Dennis Dickens was helping search for a man who had fled a vehicle wreck on foot.
“He (Dickens) had several hours of surgery today that started about 1:30 a.m.” said trooper Betsy Randolph, a spokeswoman for the highway patrol. “They worked on both ankles and both legs.”
Dickens was alert Friday evening, Randolph said Saturday. She said he was in good spirits.
The crash occurred west of Tecumseh near State Highway 9, about two miles east of State Highway 102.
Law enforcement personnel found Dickens face down and bloody in a field before pulling him away from burning wreckage. Dickens, an experienced airplane and helicopter pilot, was taken by helicopter to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
The man authorities were searching for, Brent McKenzie, 50, of Shawnee, was arrested at the scene and taken to Pottawatomie County jail on complaints of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, unsafe lane change and resisting arrest, Randolph said.
The crash occurred on the anniversary of a helicopter crash that killed a state trooper.
On July 26, 1990, Joe Nicolle was piloting a patrol helicopter when it clipped a power line and crashed about four miles east of Tahlequah. He was on his way to Watts to help deputies eradicate a marijuana crop, Randolph said.