Tower's Lights Reportedly On Before Crash

Radio station's president told video confirms it



Andre Salles | | Wednesday, October 22, 2008 Editor's Note:Click here to read "'We've Lost Too Many Lives' in EMS Crashes" and let us know in the comment section below how you feel about tougher FAA rules for the aeromedical industry.

CHICAGO -- A security videotape shows the warning lights on WBIG's 734-foot radio tower were functioning when a medical helicopter clipped one of the guy wires, killing three crew members and a 14-month-old girl on board, according to the station's president.

Rick Jakle said Tuesday he has been informed of the contents of the security tape, which came from a camera in the Metra parking lot at Aurora's Route 59 train station. He said the tape shows the tower's lights on and blinking until the crash.

The tape has been turned over to investigators, who have been trying to determine whether the lights were on before an Air Angels helicopter clipped one of the tower's wires shortly before midnight Oct. 15.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board could not be reached for comment.

Jakle said the station's general manager, Steve Marten, saw the lights working when he left the building at 7 p.m. that day.

"Those lights are extremely reliable," Jakle said. "They don't go out unless there is a thunderstorm or lightning. We're happy to hear the corroborating evidence, but the fact is, we knew they were on."

Meanwhile, the Air Angels have scheduled a memorial service for Friday for the crew and young patient who died in last week's helicopter crash.

The service will be at Our Lady of Mercy Church, 701 S. Eola Road in Aurora.

Pilot DelWaugh, nurse William Mann, paramedic Ron Battiato and 14-month-old Kirstin Blockinger of Leland will be honored at the service. It will include a ceremonial procession at 9:45 a.m., the memorial at 10 a.m. and a memorial procession at 11:30 a.m.

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