A Marine Corps helicopter touching down for a Memorial Day demonstration on Staten Island sent tree branches flying into the stunned crowd, injuring at least 10 people.
As the Osprey dipped toward the ground at Cloves Lakes Park Preserve, wind whipped up by the helicopter's rotor broke up two mid-sized trees and sent some 30 branches flying, Deputy Fire Chief Roger Sakowich said.
Yolanda Maiurrno, 80, of Staten Island, was thwacked in the ankle by a piece of wood.
"It was a really scary and horrific scene. I'm all shook up right now and I can't stop shaking," she said, gripping an ice pack given to her by medics.
"I came here to have a lovely day," she said of the annual event. "It was between this and the beach, and now I wish I chose the beach."
The MV-22 Bravo Osprey was attempting to land about 9:10 a.m. in the middle of the park's ballfields for an event celebrating 2010 Fleet Week and Memorial Day.
"We came in over the trees. You can't see what's going on underneath them," said Marine Capt. Michael Henson, whose regiment is based in North Carolina. "The next thing we see is a blanket coming up in the air. That means one thing, someone is sitting down below us. The only thing to do was to just keep going."
Helicopters, especially the heavy Osprey helicopter-airplane hybrid used by the Marines, create a lot of wind when landing.
"Anything that's loose is going to get blown around," Henson said.
As the aircraft set down "we prayed and hoped to God that nobody got hurt," Henson said. "We still feel horrible that the tree got damaged."
Sakowich said the Marines had done test runs during the week without incident.
Seven people were taken to Richmond University Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. Three more were treated at the scene. Three of the 10 injured were children, authorities said.
A similar demonstration wowed spectators in Queens on Sunday, when several hundred watched awestruck as Marines jumped from a CH-46e Sea Knight, an MV-22 Osprey and two AH-1W Cobra gunships.