2 officers killed in Atlanta helicopter crash

Authorities have identified two police officers killed when their helicopter crashed in a busy Atlanta neighborhood on Saturday.

Atlanta Police spokesman Carlos Campos identified the two officers Sunday as 48-year-old Richard J. Halford of Lithia Springs, who had been with the department for 26 years, and 40-year-old Shawn A. Smiley of Lithonia, who joined the department two years ago, according to AP.

"Losing an officer is the most difficult thing a police chief can face," Police Chief George Turner told CNN.

"Losing two is an unthinkable tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families of these officers and our thoughts and prayers are with them. This is a difficult day ... it is a reminder of their bravery and the sacrifices made by our officers every day."

The helicopter was flying low near downtown Atlanta on Saturday night looking for a runaway 9-year-old boy when it descended into some power lines and plummeted to the ground, reports AP.

Both officers died on impact when the helicopter exploded.

There were no injuries on the ground but the crash knocked out power to 1,300 Georgia Power customers, reports CNN.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

A witness, Ravien Walker, told Channel 2 Action News: “I noticed something falling out of the sky. It hit the power line and it hit the ground. I jumped out of my car and ran because I was really close to it. It could have fell right down on top of my car.”

The missing boy was later found safe.