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Helicopter that crashed into Lake Cumberland recovered 20 years later

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(LEX 18) — For two decades, the depths of Lake Cumberland have contained a mystery. Sitting somewhere at the bottom of the lake has been a helicopter that crashed in 2002, which led to no deaths.

After years of searches by multiple parties, the helicopter was found and brought to shore this week.

“It was a crazy idea [I had] as a child, it became a feasible idea 5 years ago.”

Alex Ashley was 10 years old when the helicopter crashed during a Poker Run in 2002. He organized the effort to find and recover the helicopter, which was being used to film the event from above.

To find it, Helm turned to his now friend, Landon Helm, who watched the crash.

“I said they are all looking in the wrong spot,” Helm said he told Ashley, referring to other search teams. “This is where I saw it go down.”

Ashley purchased a boat already equipped with specialized sonar equipment. He spent 18 hours scanning the lakebed. After the equipment picked up something last week, he brought in the team of Jerry Stephens, Chris Money, and Matt McDaniel. They are firefighters in Nicholasville and they helped by scuba diving to find the helicopter.

“It was definitely surreal,” Money said. “I had to touch it a couple of times to know it was real.”

One of them brought something special back up to shore for Alex.

“They brought the pilots headset up, it was amazing, it was cool” he said.

Slowly, using barrels filled with air to lift the helicopter, they started bringing it to shore Tuesday.

“It’s pretty cool you know I was one of the last people to see it go down and one of the first to see it come up,” Helm said.

By sunset, the helicopter was out of the water. Ashley said he may place it in one of his businesses.

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