A Flagstaff, Arizona aircraft accident about 130 miles north of Phoenix, between two Bell 407 medical helicopters has killed six people and seriously injured a nurse, according to a report in The Examiner.com.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Mark Rosenker stated this was the ninth accident this year involving emergency medical service (EMS) aircraft and called it a “disturbing trend.” An NTSB spokesman said EMS helicopter accidents accounted for six of the nine accidents this year and have killed 16 people.
Capt. Mark Johnson, a spokesman for the Flagstaff Fire Department said the helicopter collision happened between one helicopter coming out of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and another from the nearby community of Winslow. Both were carrying patients to the Flagstaff Medical Center. Air Methods from Englewood, Colorado and Classic Helicopters of Woods Cross, Utah were reported by the Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) to be the respective owners of the aircrafts.
Pilot Pat Graham, 50, flight nurse Shawn Shreeve, 36, and patient Raymond Zest, 54 from the Air Methods helicopter and pilot Tom Caldwell, 54, paramedic Tom Clausing, 36, and patient Michael McDonald, 26, from the Classic helicopter died. James Taylor, a 36-year-old flight nurse on the Classic helicopter suffered grievous injuries and was taken to Flagstaff Medical Center. An explosion in the wreckage injured two emergency workers who had arrived with a ground ambulance company.
I’m deeply sorry for the loss of life in this catastrophic accident. Aviation accidents are at once devastating and incredibly complex to investigate. It will be a long wait before the results of the investigation are known. We should never forget the heroic emergency medical helicopter crews and the work they do. They put their life on the line every day to provide us emergency medical transportation services when we need them most.