NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- A man plunged hundreds of feet to his death Tuesday from a helicopter he hired to take a scenic tour of the California coast, and investigators are trying to determine whether he committed suicide, authorities and the pilot's father said.
The man was the only passenger in a helicopter flying about 500 feet above the ocean in the early afternoon when he opened the door, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
The 60-year-old man fell into the water near the Balboa Pier in Orange County and was taken to shore by lifeguards. Despite lifesaving efforts, he died at a hospital from injuries he received in the fall, Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said.
The man's identity was being withheld until his relatives are notified.
Chuck Street, a longtime helicopter pilot and local traffic reporter, told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1cP0iPt ) his son, Corbin, was flying the helicopter. He said the man apparently booked a 30-minute tour for two people but showed up alone.
Street, who owns the tour company, said he was shocked by what happened.
"It's the last thing I ever thought would happen to my son," Street said.