Air Methods Corporation has reported that a Eurocopter AS350 helicopter based in St Joseph, Missouri, US, crashed on 26 August at around 18:41 hrs. The helicopter, which was operated in support of the company’s LifeNet in the Heartland programme, was en route from Harrison County Community Hospital to Liberty Hospital. Paramedic Chris Frakes, flight nurse Randy Bever, and pilot James Freudenbery were onboard the aircraft and received fatal injuries along with the patient, who has been named as Terry Tacoronte.
Speaking after the accident, Aaron Todd, Air Methods chief executive officer, said: “We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of our employees and the patient who perished in Missouri.”
Officials from Air Methods, along with staff from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), were sent to the scene to investigate. Although it will be some time before the cause of the accident is determined, early indications are that the pilot was intending to make a fuelling stop at Mosby Airport, about a mile from the crash scene, according to Lynn Lunsford, an FAA spokesperson. Air Methods vice-president of business and compliance Craig Yale said that the communications centre lost contact with the aircraft at 18:41 hrs and relayed the last known co-ordinates to the local police force, who confirmed that the helicopter had crashed.
Dr Mark Laney, chief executive officer of Heartland Health where Bever and Frakes also worked, said: “We are all shocked and saddened by this tragic accident. They will be greatly missed by all of the Heartland team. Our thoughts and condolences go out to all of the families of the victims of the crash.”