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Copter crash in Texas kills 2 and injures 3

BROADDUS, Texas (AP) — Two people died and three others were injured when a U.S. Forest Service helicopter crashed while on a mission to recover debris from space shuttle Columbia.

All five were aboard the chopper when it crashed Thursday in an East Texas forest, said Kim Pease, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Marsha Cooper, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said it was unclear what agency the two people killed were affiliated with, and their names were not immediately released.

The crash was disheartening for search crews and federal personnel. "It's very hard for everyone," Cooper said. "It's such a tragedy in east Texas, after losing the shuttle and the astronauts."

Seven Forest Service helicopters searched for debris in the area Thursday. Department of Public Safety communications operator Tonica Weathers said she did not know of any helicopter searches being called off because of the crash.

The crash site was accessible only from muddy, rut-filled stretches of trail. All-terrain vehicles were brought to the scene to assist emergency personnel.