NTSB Releases Report on Florida Medical Chopper Crash - News - @ JEMS.com


NTSB Releases Report on Florida Medical Chopper Crash

The crash killed the pilot and two Mayo Clinic staff.


 
 

| Thursday, January 5, 2012


GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — A helicopter carrying three people to pick up a heart for transplant struck several trees as it crashed to the ground in north Florida, but the pilot made no distress call, according to a preliminary investigation.

The Dec. 26 crash killed a St. Augustine veteran pilot and a heart surgeon and a procurement technician from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. They were flying to a Gainesville hospital to pick up a heart for a transplant in Jacksonville.

According to the preliminary report the National Transportation Safety Board posted late Tuesday, the helicopter took off from the Mayo Clinic at 5:37 a.m.

No flight plan was filed. The last communication from the helicopter came at 5:49 a.m. when the pilot, E. Hoke Smith of SK Jets, contacted the air traffic control tower at Jacksonville International Airport to inquire about the status of restricted airspace. Air traffic controllers told Smith the restricted areas were inactive, and Smith acknowledged their reply, investigators said.

The helicopter, a Bell 206B, was last recorded on radar at 5:53 a.m. at an altitude of 300 feet and about a mile north of the Clay County crash site, investigators said.

The helicopter crashed at 5:54 a.m. in a remote wooded area about 12 miles northeast of the Palatka Municipal Airport in overcast, somewhat misty conditions, according to the report.

Mayo Clinic staff alerted authorities that the team was overdue and a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office aircraft spotted the wreckage about four hours later.

Several trees that were severed by breaks at descending altitudes marked the start of the debris field, investigators said. The first tree strike was at an estimated height of 30 feet above the ground, which severed a roughly 50-foot tree at a ground elevation of 118 feet, according to the report.

The crash ignited a fire that burned about 10 acres of woods and investigators said most of the wreckage was consumed by the fire.

The NTSB investigation into what caused the crash may take up to a year and a half to complete.

The crash killed Smith, 68, a Vietnam combat veteran, and two Mayo Clinic staff: surgeon Luis Bonilla, 49, and technician David Hines, 57. Bonilla had transferred in November to the Jacksonville hospital from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The patient who had been waiting for the heart was put back on the transplant waiting list.

A message left Wednesday for Smith's son, who is the general manager of SK Jets, was not immediately returned.

The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has had a contract with SK Jets since 2006 for organ transplant retrieval and recovery transportation services, spokesman Kevin Punsky said.

Such flights sometimes have to be coordinated quickly because of the sporadic nature of organ availability and the short window of time that organs remain viable for transplant, he said. He declined further comment on the crash or the NTSB report because of the ongoing investigation.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, air medical crash

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Philadelphia Fire Department Apologizes for Medic’s Jab at Police

Union head calls photos a slap in the face of officers.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire and EMS Crews Blame New Technology for Patient’s Death

Delayed response blamed on recurring dispatch problems.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Suspect Steals, Crashes Maryland Ambulance

One killed, others injured in Prince George’s County crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee Trench Rescue

Worker pulled from Roane County worksite.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Time’s Ebola Firefighters

Doctors, nurses and others saluted for fighting virus.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Car Strikes Manhattan Pedestrians

Seven people hurt when car jumps curb.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >