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Union County (Ohio) Medical Copter Fired on in Flight

MARYSVILLE, Ohio -- Central Ohio law-enforcement agencies are on alert after a medical helicopter was shot Thursday during flights to children's hospitals.

No one was injured but the Union County sheriff's office is investigating. Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration have been notified.

Authorities think the helicopter, based in Union County's Allen Township, was shot at from the ground between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., Sheriff Jamie Patton said.

Nothing was noted during a preflight inspection. The chopper then made trips to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus and Akron Children's Hospital. While refueling in Akron, a bullet hole was discovered in the rear door on the right side, said Todd Bailey, MedFlight's spokesman.

Authorities found a bullet fragment on the floor of a storage compartment, Patton said.

The path of the bullet and the location of the hole led investigators to conclude that the copter was fired on while in flight, Bailey said.

The helicopter was immediately taken out of service for patients. After being inspected by a mechanic, it was flown back to Union County for the investigation.

Another helicopter has been stationed at the Union County base to carry patients, Bailey said.

Once deputies took the report just after midnight Thursday, all area police agencies and airports were notified so aircraft could be on alert, Patton said. Television news stations with helicopters also were notified.

Since there was no crash, the FAA will take a supporting role in the investigation, said spokesman Tony Molinaro. He said the agency might be able to check radar records for specific flight paths to help local authorities narrow their focus on where the shot could have originated.

Endangering an aircraft is a fourth-degree felony. No one has been charged.

Anyone with information can call the Union County sheriff's office tipline at 937-642-6753.



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