Santa Claus Is Hitting The Ground

I remember watching Santa Claus skydive into a pole and tree last year and thinking to myself gees, some of those kids might need a little therapy. But while I’m sure that was probably rather traumatic, I’m also fairly certain that it has nothing on this incident from 1996.

Santa Claus was ready to fly by dozens of underprivileged children gathered for a holiday party at the Lantana airport on Sunday when the unthinkable happened.
Santa’s helicopter crashed and burned.

Helicopter pilot Donald Lloyd, 44, of Boca Raton, was able to yank Santa – played by Charles Dhooge – from the burning chopper.
“He literally saved my life,” Dhooge said on Sunday night. “I was on fire and trapped inside. Mr. Lloyd had gas on himself, but he reached through the flames and released the belt and I fell to the ground. I had to run through the fire and [Lloyd) in turn caught on fire.”
Dhooge, 46, of West Palm Beach, was taken to JFK Medical Center in Atlantis with burns on his face, head and back. He was released late Sunday.

The copter went down about 200 yards from a hangar where volunteers from Angel Flight South Florida were throwing a party for 200 children, who could see smoke billowing from the crash site. Some were in tears and distraught, afraid Santa was dead.
“I witnessed the crash and even though I’m not a kid, it traumatized me,” said Cherie Guimond whose husband is an Angel Flight pilot. “They were crying and saying Santa’s dead and all I could think of is they need a Santa here to give out the presents.”
All that was left of the helicopter, a Bell 47G2 owned by Lloyd, was a crumpled mess of charred metal. Helicopter parts, as well as brightly wrapped holiday gifts that were to be delivered by Santa, littered the tarmac.

Better luck this year, Santa.

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