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Old 01-11-2005, 08:21   #1
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MD/DC area MEDEVAC crash

washingtonpost.com
Copter Crashes in River; 2 Die
Craft Hit Something, Survivor Tells Rescuers
By Allan Lengel, Martin Weil and Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 11, 2005; 7:33 AM


Authorities resumed their search this morning for one of two crew members police said died when a medical evacuation helicopter crashed into the Potomac River late last night near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Firefighters and police rescued one man from the water and recovered a single body just after the Life Evac helicopter went down shortly after 11:00 p.m. several hundreds yard off the National Harbor development in Prince George's County. Authorities expressed no doubt that the third crew member was dead.

Life Evac specializes in transporting patients from one medical facility to another. Authorities said it was returning from the Washington Hospital Center to its base in Stafford County, about 40 miles south. No patient was said to be on board at the time.

Maryland State Police Sgt. Billy Dunston, who was patrolling in the area, told television interviewers that he "observed a helicopter flying unusually low past the construction equipment," near the bridge. "I didn't think anything of it until a citizen advised me that a helicopter had crashed into the water," he said. The witness was able to pinpoint the area where the chopper went into the water, Dunston said, which helped rescuers do their work more quickly.

The survivor was found in the water clinging to the tail section of the craft, according to Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Authorities said the man had numerous injuries but was able to talk to his rescuers. Depending on the tide, the water in the area ranges from knee-deep to shoulder-deep.

The survivor is at the Washington Hospital Center.

One body was removed from the water shortly after the crash, said Maryland State Police Col. Thomas E. Hutchins at a televised news conference this morning. Prince George's County Fire and EMS Capt. Chauncey Bowers said divers would expand their search for the second body this morning.

None of the three occupants of the helicopter was identified immediately, and no cause of the crash had been determined. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were en route to the scene this morning. Several large cranes jut skyward near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which is being renovated. Hutchins said he did not know whether the cranes played any role in the crash.

A Web site for the helicopter service said it was affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University. Crews on each mission consist of one flight nurse and a flight paramedic team. A spokesman for Air Methods Corp., of Denver, told Fox 5 news that it provided the helicopter, an EC 135, to the university. The chopper was less than a year old, the spokesman said.

The two people who died were described by authorities as a man and a woman. The body apparently was located in the submerged wreckage by divers who were part of a vast turnout of police and fire departments that joined the search and rescue effort. Among those responding were the Maryland State Police, the D.C. Fire Department marine unit and units from the Alexandria and Prince George's County police and fire departments.

A variety of helicopters take to the skies above the Washington area daily, for purposes that include law enforcement, search and rescue and medical evacuations.

Many of them use the Potomac River as a principal north-and-south route to avoid flying over congested neighborhoods and to minimize noise. Last night's incident was the first crash of a medical services helicopter in recent memory.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company
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Old 01-11-2005, 08:25   #2
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Old 01-11-2005, 08:32   #3
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Thanks for the pics Moose. For some reason they would not load on the work computer. I heared it on the news this AM while getting ready for work and was shcoked, of course they had precious few details. When I got in, apparently the offgoing shift supervisor who is also in charge of our helo was under the impresion of MSP. After doing a fly along whith those guys it made my heart stop for a second. Our angency lost it's helo about 14 years ago, and while I did not work there then, it is still a part of our agency now.
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Old 01-11-2005, 09:20   #4
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We got a call very early this morning from our daughter and son-in-law. The woman killed was a friend and former co-worker of theirs in the Charlottesville area. I'd met her a couple of times.

My son-in-law is doing grief counseling this morning with members of his department and the local Squads.

Everyone is in our prayers.
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Old 01-11-2005, 13:16   #5
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Prayers for all involved.


Air Methods also suppiles the Helo to Carilion Health Systems here in Roanoke.
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Old 01-11-2005, 13:31   #6
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The post updated the sory today, most of the info from the first article is there, but with more added.



Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the affiliation of a helicopter that crashed in the Potomac late Monday night. The helicopter was operated by Air Methods Corp. of Devnver and its Life Net service in Stafford County. It was not affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University or its VCU Life Evac service, which is jointly operated by the university and Air Methods out of Richmond.



Copter Crashes in River; 2 Die
Craft Hit Something, Survivor Tells Rescuers

By Allan Lengel, Martin Weil and Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 11, 2005; 1:41 PM

Authorities resumed their search this morning for one of two crew members who police said died when a medical evacuation helicopter crashed into the Potomac River late last night near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Firefighters and police rescued one man from the water and recovered a single body just after the helicopter went down shortly after 11 p.m. several hundred yards off the National Harbor development in Prince George's County. Authorities said they believed a third crew member, whose body has not been recovered, was dead.


The rescued man was identified early this afternoon by officials of Air Methods Corp., which operated the helicopter, as Jonathan Godfrey, a nurse on the flight. Paramedic Nichole Kielar's body was recovered.

The pilot, Joseph Schaffer, has not been found.

A crane pulled the wreckage of the EC 135 chopper from the Potomac after 8 a.m. today.

The private medical evacuation service was returning from Washington Hospital Center to its base in Stafford County, about 40 miles south. No patient was on board at the time.

Maryland State Police Sgt. Billy Dunston, who was patrolling in the area, told television interviewers that he "observed a helicopter flying unusually low past the construction equipment," near the bridge. "I didn't think anything of it until a citizen advised me that a helicopter had crashed into the water," he said. The witness was able to pinpoint the area where the chopper went into the water, Dunston said, which helped rescuers do their work more quickly.

Godfrey was found in the water clinging to the tail section of the craft, according to Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Authorities said the man had numerous injuries but was able to talk to his rescuers. Depending on the tide, the water in the area ranges from knee-deep to shoulder-deep.

He was taken to the Washington Hospital Center.

Kieler's body was removed from the water shortly after the crash, said Maryland State Police Col. Thomas E. Hutchins at a televised news conference this morning. Prince George's County Fire and EMS Capt. Chauncey Bowers said divers would expand their search for Schaffer today.

No cause of the crash has been determined.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived on the scene early this morning and were beginning to explore possible causes.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the weather conditions were clear and wind was calm at the time of the accident. The pilot had just communicated with air traffic control at Reagan National Airport before the accident, she said.

Near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge there are several large cranes involved in the work on bridge renovation and the nearby National Harbor construction. Hutchins said he did not know whether the cranes played any role in the crash.


According to the Federal Aviation Administration, cranes and other towers are recommended to have markings and lights if they stand more than 200 feet tall, and if the cranes or structures are within three miles of an airport, such markings and lights are required.

"Operators are responsible for what we call terrain clearance," said Brown said.

NTSB Chairwoman Ellen Engleman Conners told a news conference today that the aircraft was operated by Life Net, a subsidiary of Colorado-based Air Methods Corp.

Conners said the aircraft in last night's crash had been in service less than one month. She also said there has been a spike in medical evacuation crashes in the past year and that this is the 11th since January 2004. Four people have died, including the pilot crash last week in Mississippi of a medical helicopter operated by Air Methods.

Before last week, the company had one crash in 2002 and one in the late 1990s, said Aaron D. Todd, the company's chief executive officer.

"Our hearts go out to the families," said Todd. "We're cooperating with the NTSB investigation."

The company operates 100,000 medical evacuation aircraft directly or through subsidiaries. Air Methods acquired Life Net more than two years ago. "We are very devoted to safe operating practices," Todd said.

After the accident, police and fire departments from around the area joined in the search and rescue effort. Among those responding were the Maryland State Police, the D.C. Fire Department marine unit and units from the Alexandria and Prince George's County police and fire departments.

A variety of helicopters take to the skies above the Washington area daily, for purposes that include law enforcement, search and rescue and medical evacuations.

Many of them use the Potomac River as a principal north-and-south route to avoid flying over congested neighborhoods and to minimize noise. They are directed to fly below 300 feet so that they do not interfere with aircraft flying in and out of National Airport, the FAA said. Because of the security rules that govern the airspace over the nation's capital, pilots must be in communication with air traffic control and transmit a discreet code to identify them to controllers.

Washington Post staff writer Sara Kehaulani Goo and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this story
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Old 01-11-2005, 13:35   #7
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Firefighter/EMS Talk

and off of their website

http://www.lifeevac.com/home.html

Firefighter/EMS Talk
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Last edited by obxprnstar; 01-11-2005 at 13:52..
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Old 01-11-2005, 15:20   #8
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Old 01-11-2005, 21:50   #9
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Richmonder among fatalities in helicopter crash into Potomac River


From NBC12 News
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Rescuers are still searching for the pilot of a Virginia-based medical helicopter that crashed in the Potomac River, killing a flight nurse from Richmond and injuring another. The LifeNet helicopter went down just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge around 11 PM Monday night.

The three person crew on board the helicopter was returning to its base in Stafford County last night, after dropping off a patient at Mary Washington Hospital. The cause of the accident is unknown and officials continue to investigate.

Authorities are still searching for the pilot, Joseph Schaeffer, who is presumed dead. He was a seasoned veteran with 30 years of experience and had logged roughly 3,000 miles during his career.

Nikki Keilar, 29, also died in the crash. She lived on Richmond’s West End. She just began working as a paramedic with this life evac unit based in Stafford County last July. She also worked part time with the life evac unit at VCU Medical Center.

There was one survivor. Flight nurse, identified as Jonathan Godfrey, was the lone survivor. He was plucked from the water by a fire department rescue boat. Godfrey suffered broken bones and bruises but is expected to make a full recovery. At last word, he was in fair condition at Washington Hospital Center.

A Maryland State police officer stationed at the Wilson Bridge was first to report the accident. A passer-by alerted Sergeant Billy Dunston that the helicopter had entered the water. The witness was able to pinpoint where the helicopter crashed. Authorities believe the copter struck something before going down.

Investigation continues

NBC12 has learned that the helicopter was fairly new, and had only been in service for about a month. The helicopter is operated by LifeNet, based out of Colorado. This is the second such accident involving a life evac helicopter in a week. A pilot died in an accident just last week in Mississippi in a life evac helicopter after officials say he hit some trees.

But officials from Lifenet -- the Colorado Company which operates the helicopter -- say that's merely a coincidence.

“We have admirable safety,” says Lifenet official Craig Yale. “Few accidents for hours flown, two in a week is a concern but there's no correlation to each other.”

NTSB investigators hope the badly mangled remains of this life evac helicopter will provide some clues to how the aircraft crashed south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Monday night. By mid-morning Tuesday, savage crews brought the helicopter wreckage to the Maryland shore of the Potomac River. The blue and white helicopter’s nose and tail were both sheared off in the crash. They were pulled up in separate pieces, along with several other bits of debris.

Authorities say one contributing factor to last night's accident could have been where the helicopter was at the time it went down near construction cranes and very close to Reagan National Airport with stringent FAA restrictions.

Local mourning

Kielar leaves many who mourn her -- in Richmond, Charlottesville, where she worked eight years at the rescue squad and throughout the entire Virginia EMT community. Her friends remember her as a dedicated, hard-working and well-liked young woman. A paramedic, a masters in physiology, a candidate to MCV, an assistant fire chief -- her list of qualifications go on and on.

“It’s a small consolation she died doing what she loved,” says Charlottesville rescue squad official David Starmer. “She died doing a service to others.”

But, perhaps her best friend in Richmond, Matthew Payne, put it best.

“It's hard to hold back the tears,” says Payne. “She always has a smile on her face, telling us not to cry too much over her. It's our loss but heaven's gain.”

The National Transportation Safety Board will be heading up the investigation.

(c) 2005. Jefferson Pilot Communications Company of Virginia. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Old 01-12-2005, 08:37   #10
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Ok, so I read in the onlive version of the post this morning how the patomic is a main north south path for helicopters and due to trafic out of Regan and Andrews that they fly @ 300 ft. I tell you what, I fly on occasion, and our helo flys to Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. During the day it is no fun to fly low while the military is doing their thing.
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Old 01-13-2005, 12:35   #11
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