PARAMARIBO, SURINAME, JULY 10 -- A Surinamese Army helicopter piloted by an American and carrying another American crewman crashed near the border with French Guiana Tuesday, killing the pilot, an Army spokesman and the survivor said today.
The Army official, who refused to give his name, identified the pilot as Billy Pearson. The helicopter mechanic, who appeared in a television interview from his hospital bed, identified himself as Lymm Bevan and said he is an American.
The hometowns of the two men were not given, nor was information about Bevan's injuries or condition.
The U.S. Embassy said it could not confirm the death or that Americans were aboard the helicopter, but said it was looking into the report.
According to the Army spokesman, the helicopter was on a reconnaisance mission when it crashed because of a mechanical failure.
Rebels led by former Army Pvt. Ronny Brunswijk, who are trying to overthrow the government of Lt. Col. Desi Bouterse, often clash with government troops in the jungle region where the crash occurred.
The Army spokesman said the Americans had been hired by the government. He said they were aboard a Bell helicopter, one of three helicopters owned by the Army. The two others are French-made Allouttes.