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Dramatic Video of Helicopter Rescue Gone Awry

A swimmer stranded in open water at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro got more than he bargained for when he was being rescued via helicopter. Of course the last thing the first responders and the person being rescued wanted was for something to go wrong---particularly with the chopper itself. But that's exactly what happened.

After a fire department team used a winch to lift the stranded swimmer out of the ocean, the helicopter suffered what officials called an "unspecified mechanical failure," and the pilot, who feared landing on the crowded beach, avoided it altogether and touched down on the water instead. Remarkably, the rescuers and the swimmer sustained only minor injuries.

Just after the crash-landing on the water, onlookers, who could be heard screaming, rushed into the ocean to help the victims. Then two other rescue choppers arrived to complete the rescue effort. Once the second rescue mission proved successful, onlookers gave the first-responders a well-deserved round of applause. Commenters who have seen the video online are also giving the rescuers praise for their effort. One person singled out the pilot for his graceful landing on the water. "That was a well executed autorotation. An excellent piece of flying."

The term autorotation refers to the maneuver used by a helicopter pilot when there is a power failure. Because of this move, the victims escaped more serious injuries.

[Related: Dramatic Ice Rescue Caught on Tape]

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