This dinghy was used by King Lake resident Jeffrey Abrams to pull two men to safety from a crashed helicopter on Tuesday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

This dinghy was used by King Lake resident Jeffrey Abrams to pull two men to safety from a crashed helicopter on Tuesday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Pilot in helicopter crash has died; 2nd man expected to live

Federal investigators are examining the site at a lake near Arlington.

ARLINGTON — A helicopter pilot who crashed into a small, remote lake near Arlington has died.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner reported Wednesday that Ernest Stark died from drowning in an accident. The Arlington-area man was 70.

Neighbors heard a strange noise when the helicopter took off around 1 p.m. It went airborne for a minute or so before crashing into King Lake east of Jordan Road, off a private drive five miles north of Granite Falls.

A witness, Jeffrey Abrams, described the sound as “like an explosion.” He rowed a dinghy out to the submerged helicopter. His wife, Lillie, called 911.

A passenger swam from the wreck. Abrams pulled him into the boat.

An ambulance rushed Stark to a hospital, where he initially was listed in critical condition.

The passenger suffered serious injuries, but he’s expected to survive.

The pilot often flew at King Lake, hovering slowly above the water. This time the helicopter was moving fast, Abrams said.

The small aircraft had about a 20-gallon tank of gas. Gasoline rose to the surface and left a light sheen, but it did not appear to be worsening, said Larry Altose, a spokesman for the state Department of Ecology. The aircraft is expected to remain underwater at least until Thursday.

Investigators with the Federal National Transportation Safety Board were examining the scene of the crash.

An initial report on the cause is expected sometime in the next 10 days.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; Twitter: @snocaleb.

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