A helicopter crashed into a building in Red Bud on Saturday afternoon, resulting in the death of its 74-year-old pilot from Red Bud.
The crash occurred about 2 p.m. at EZ Self-Storage, 1290 W. Market Street, Red Bud.
A resident who lives near the storage facility told the Republic-Times he saw a helicopter make a circle in the air before hearing a booming crash. Smoke and flames could be seen shooting from the building shortly after the crash. The helicopter involved was an older model two-seater with a bubble-type front.
Responding agencies included the Red Bud police and fire departments, Med Star Ambulance, Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, Randolph County Coroner’s Office and Illinois State Police.
“ISP District 13 was notified of a helicopter crash near West Market and Violet Drive in Red Bud,” ISP issued in a press release. “Once ISP arrived, it was determined the crash resulted in the death of the sole male occupant. The incident is being investigated by the ISP, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.”
The preliminary FAA crash report lists the type of helicopter as a 2002 Canadian Home Rotors Safari. The aircraft “crashed under unknown circumstances into a storage building and caught fire,” the report states.
The deceased was identified as Welda W. DeRousse Jr., who owned EZ Self-Storage since 1993. He previously owned and operated DeRousse Heating and Air from 1976 to 2010.
DeRousse was an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who enjoyed flying and had his helicopter and pilot license, according to his obituary.
He was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Red Bud, River Road Cruisers, Knights of Columbus #12152 in Red Bud, VFW Post #6632 in Red Bud and American Legion Post #622 in Prairie du Rocher.
Visitation is set for 4-8 p.m. Friday and 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday at Pechacek Funeral Home in Red Bud. A private funeral mass will take place Saturday at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.