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Historic "Annie" helicopter damaged by drunk driver

A drunk driver veered off of the Columbia Airport Expressway and ran into their Cobra Attack Helicopter "Annie," significantly damaging the historic aircraft.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A drunk driver is behind bars after investigators say he ran his vehicle into the historic "Annie" helicopter.

"He hit the aircraft and steered off the landing gear that she sits on," says Stephen Seymour, executive director of the Celebration Freedom Foundation (CFF).

According to the CFF, early Saturday morning, a drunk driver veered off of the Columbia Airport Expressway and ran into their Cobra Attack Helicopter "Annie." 

"Annie served in the United State's army from 1967 to 2001," says Seymour, a two-time Purple Heart recipient. "She did five years in Vietnam. She did the Persian Gulf war and she got taken out by a drunk driver. It's going to take a lot of hard work from our veterans and our volunteers and it's going to take a lot of resources to put this aircraft back into the condition where I can get her back out there doing her job."

The aircraft has been involved with STEM programs through the CFF since 2014. 

"My heart hurts so bad because of all the hard work that everyone has put into this aircraft," says Lori Wicker, director of the CFF STEM Program.

The aircraft has visited 150 schools and engaged 100,000 students.  

"It just brings back so much emotions with our Veterans who have served," says Wicker. "They brought their grand kids to see these. We would go to schools and they're like this is a real thing. Everything they learn is school is somewhere on this helicopter. You've got your science, your engineering, your technology and your math."

The non-profit organization is hopeful that the aircraft will be restored.

"They don't make these anymore," says Wicker. "These are our history."

South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating the incident. No injuries were reported, and at this time, the CFF doesn't know how much it will cost to repair the aircraft.