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Pilot’s condition critical after helicopter crash

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A 71-year-old man was listed in critical condition Wednesday after a helicopter he was piloting crashed into a barn north of Little Falls.

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Gary Earl Oleen of St. Cloud was flying the crop-spraying helicopter at 10:18 a.m. Wednesday when he crashed onto the roof of a barn, according to the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office.

Oleen was trapped inside the helicopter for about 20 minutes, as the helicopter was through the metal roof of the barn, but not through the interior ceiling.

Emergency crews had to get to Oleen by climbing on the roof, said Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel. The roof was in danger of collapsing at any moment, Wetzel said. It also was slippery with spilled oil and fuel.

An aerial ladder truck from the Little Falls Fire Department allowed responders to reach the pilot.

Oleen, who was hired by the farm’s owner to spray the fields, was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.

The cause of the crash had not been determined. The Federal Aviation Administration is assisting in the investigation.

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