A Stanislaus County pilot remained in critical condition Wednesday, one day after his crop-dusting helicopter crashed in an almond orchard a few miles southeast of Escalon.
Meanwhile, a Federal Aviation Administration safety inspector visited the crash site Wednesday. He arranged for the wreckage to be taken to a hangar at Modesto Airport.
He likely will examine the helicopter's maintenance records, engine and fuel, according to an FAA spokesman. A more thorough examination of the wreckage will take place next week.
Pilot Bill Cavanagh was returning to his business after crop-dusting a field of oats several miles north of where he crashed Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
He was taken by ambulance to Memorial Medical Center, but Rick Cavanagh said his father was transferred to Doctors Medical Center after a diagnostic scan showed he had a torn aorta.
Rick Cavanagh said his father underwent surgery Tuesday night at DMC.
He said a doctor told the family that "80 percent of the people with that injury do not make it to the hospital."
Rick Cavanagh said his father's injuries include a punctured lung, broken back and ribs and three broken fingers.
"He's doing good," Cavanagh said. "The doctor told my brother, he is doing better than expected. That's a good sign."
Bill Cavanagh has been a crop-duster for 30 years, according to his son, the last 13 with Cavanagh Flying Service, which is based east of Modesto.