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Wilmington firefighter dies in helicopter crash

READ MORE: Wilmington firefighter dies in helicopter crash

WILMINGTON -- A Wilmington firefighter died in a helicopter crash Thursday. Capt. John Miller was off-duty when his chopper went down off Carolina Beach Road (view map) around 10 a.m behind Strickland's Army Surplus Store. Miller was the only person on board at the time.

Friends say Miller got off work Thursday morning and took his helicopter out for a ride. Witnesses who saw the accident say it looked like mechanical errors caused the Robinson R-22 chopper to crash.

"The helicopter was flying pretty low and it looked like part of the engine fell off then it went down and exploded," Jonathan Longnecker, who saw the crash, said.

"I heard a helicopter but it sounded really funny like something was wrong with the engine, and then I didn't hear anything," a woman who identified herself as Charlotte said. "Then I looked outside and saw everybody running."

crash scene

No one on the ground was hurt. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash. Miller had been a pilot for about 18 months and had just purchased his own helicopter about eight months ago. His friends said the helicopter had passed inspection in January.

Friends and fellow firefighters have already started to show their support for Miller's family. Miller had been with the Wilmington Fire Department since 1990. Neighbors say the city has lost a local hero.

Remembering Capt. John Miller

John Miller started his career as a firefighter in Wilmington in 1990. Over the years he had developed a very close bond with the other firefighters. Now many in the fire department feel as if they have lost a family member.

"It is a very, very close-knit family," Capt. Cliff Willman said. "He leaned on my shoulder, I leaned on his shoulder. That's part of being a firefighter: having the love and support of your brothers."

Willman not only worked side-by-side with Miller at the Wilmington Fire Department. He was also a close family friend. The two had known each other for 22 years. Now the news of Miller's sudden death is hitting Willman and many other local firefighters hard.

"It's a very hard thing to deal with when you have a close friend and brother firefighter lose his life," Willman said. "He's touched many lives in this town."

Willman recalled one of Millers many life saving moments.

"He was off duty, and he was test driving a car from a local dealership up off I-40 with the salesman inside, and he looked up and there was a jeep flipping down the road," Willman said. "The driver got out, and the passenger couldn't get out and the thing caught on fire and John got her out."

Now Willman just wants to remind the community of how great of a loss the city has suffered.
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Our regards from all

Our regards from all servicemen serving overseas.Brothers in arms.

The Loss

All of us at Marshallberg Sta.14 are praying for you and the family...we're so sorry for your loss....


You are in our thoughts and prayers and we know you will get through this tragic loss with the the arms of the angels around you. The Purchasing Dept At Wilmington health Associates

Captain Miller

Are thoughts and prayers to the family of Mr Miller & Wilmington Fire. God Bless You Captain Miller. Station 35

Capt. Miller

Our thoughts and prayers our with the Miller family in this time of tragic loss.

Mr Miller

My thoughts and prayers to the family of Mr Miller

John Miller

Although no words of sympathy can ease the loss we just want you to know that Our thoughts and prayers are with you. The Wildeboer's

Johnny's Family

Kellie, Lindsay, Linda, Aunt Alice, Uncle James, and Chris: I am so sorry for your loss. Johnny was a wonderful father, husband, son, and brother to you. I hope that all of the memories that you have will bring you some comfort during this time. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. With Sympathy & Love, Kristy

The Family of John Miller

To the family of John Miller. My thoughts and prayers are with each of you. Kellie and Lindsy, you have lost a wonderful man and dad. I am so sorry for your loss. John was a kind and gentle man who helped people with never a thought for himself. He will be missed by many people and remembered by many more. May God be with you each and help you to heal and move on from this tragic loss. God Bless, Pam

Our thoughts and prayers are

Our thoughts and prayers are for the firefighter that died in the helicopter crash. students of ashley high school

Our thoughts and prayers go

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Family and the WFD. Sloop Point Fire

Your family is in our

Your family is in our thoughts and prayers during this tragic time.

You're in our thoughts and prayers!!

To the family and friends of John's. We all knew John and we all know,he was such a great guy to be around.. He will be missed tremendously!! God Bless and we'rer praying for all of you!! RIP John.. We all love you and miss you lots!!!

To have been blessed

Linda, You once told me how blessed you were to have such a wonderful husband who also happened to be your greatest friend. John Miller was a genuine man and those of us fortunate enough to know him share in the grief of your loss. You and the girls are in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless, Kim C.

I'm so sorry

To Linda and the Miller Family, I'm so sorry for your loss. You are in my prayers.


God Bless you and your family

What a great guy

I use to help John when he was frist learning how to fly. I also helped him work on his house. He would always ask how i was doing and always help me out if i was moving planes at the airport. He will be missed. RIP John Miller

I am so sorry

I hope that God can give his family some comfort during this very trying time. I am so very sorry for the loss they are facing. You will all be in my prayers.

Tragic Loss

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Miller family. What a tragic loss...Rest in peace Captain!

My love and prayers are with

My love and prayers are with Linda and the rest of the family. Ellen

Tragic Loss

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Miller family. What a tragic loss.....Rest in peace Captain!

Thoughts and prayers... John's family.


What a loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his fellow firefighters. R.I.P.

R.I.P. John ---WFD---

R.I.P. John ---WFD---

My cousin John.

John was my cousin. I grew up with him. We played a many a summer day together. He was a great and loving man. Even though I live in a different town and did not see Johnny very often, he was a great person, friend, cousin, brother to Chris and son to his parents. We will always miss him and love him.

My Cousin Johnny

Johnny was my 2 cousin... I didnt know him alot but with what my mom told me he was a good man, dad and son. I just wont to say thank you to all the people that have us in there prayers. Jessica Hurst

Tragis loss

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Miller family. What a tragic loss.....Rest in peace Captain!