PORTLAND, Maine — A longtime advocate for the Androscoggin River is recovering in a Portland hospital after the helicopter he was piloting crashed last week in the Waldo County town of Burnham.
Ed Friedman, chairman of Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, has initiated federal lawsuits against power companies and others on a range of issues, including river water quality, fish passage and smart meters.
“He is in very good spirits and there is no doubt he will absolutely recover from these injuries,” Kathleen McGee, Friedman’s longtime girlfriend, said Thursday.
She said the recovery would take time because Friedman’s injuries were substantial, including extensive fractures. He is being cared for at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
A bear researcher flying with Friedman pulled him from the wreckage and said he suffered multiple serious injuries in the crash.
Unity College researcher Lisa Bates, who also was injured in the crash, said Friedman injured his leg, hip, ribs and an eye.
Friedman, 58, of Bowdoinham is a volunteer pilot for NightHawk, a national nonprofit group that provides free flying services for conservation efforts.
Friedman also owns and operates Point of View Helicopter Services. He was flying his Schweizer 300C at the time of the accident. The helicopter is a two-passenger vehicle on floats that can make water landings. McGee said the helicopter was destroyed in the crash.
A pilot with more than 30 years of experience, Friedman has flown helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and has extensive training that includes flying in mountainous terrain.
According to Bates, the helicopter was between 50 and 60 feet above the ground July 3 when the engine stopped.
McGee said Thursday she knew the helicopter had experienced a problem because an Air Force search-and-rescue team notified her that the aircraft’s emergency transmitter had been tripped.
Bates said McGee was the first person she called, even before 911, once she was able to find a working cellphone.
After pulling Friedman from the helicopter, Bates made her way through the forest to a highway where she flagged down help, according to a report in the Bangor Daily News.
McGee said she and Friedman have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and well wishes from friends and the community at large.
The cause of the crash is pending investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.