Chopper crashes searching for pot gardens

Chopper crashes searching for pot gardens
In this Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 photo provided by the Harney County Sheriff's Office, a helicopter sits on a logging road in the Malheur National Forest outside Burns, Ore., after suffering engine failure and crash-landing while involved in a search for marijuana gardens grown by Mexican drug cartels. The sheriff's office says the pilot and a sheriff's deputy on board both walked away unhurt. The National Transportation Safety Board has sent the engine to the manufacturer for inspection. (AP Photo/Harney County Sheriff's Department)

BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The annual search for marijuana gardens grown by Mexican drug cartels in Eastern Oregon's Harney County got off to a rough start when a helicopter suffered engine failure and crash-landed.

The Harney County Sheriff's office said the pilot and the deputy flying with him walked away unhurt Monday. The crash was near Calamity Butte on the Malheur National Forest.

Sgt. Brian Needham says it was the first day of a federal, state and county marijuana eradication program. He says they hope to resume in a few weeks if another helicopter can be arranged.

The McDonnell Douglas 369E was being leased by the U.S. Department of Justice from PJ Helicopters of Red Bluff, Calif.

Needham says the National Transportation Safety Board is sending the engine to the manufacturer for inspection.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press