Medical helicopter crashes in remote woods, killing 3

Posted at 9:11 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 21:11:16-05

CINCINNATI — A medical helicopter crashed Tuesday in a remote wooded area on its way to pick up a patient, killing all three crew members, authorities said.

Survival Flight medical transportation reported around 7:20 a.m. Tuesday losing communication with a helicopter flying from the Mount Carmel Hospital in Grove City to pick up a patient from a hospital in Pomeroy, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

Authorities located wreckage nearly three hours later in rugged terrain near the community of Zaleski, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Columbus.

The helicopter broke apart in a remote area connected only by logging trails, said Highway Patrol Lt. Robert Sellers. Other state and local authorities helped at the crash site in Vinton County.

All three crew members were from Ohio: pilot Jennifer Topper, 34, of Sunbury and flight nurses Bradley Haynes, 48, of London and Rachel Cunningham, 33, of Galloway.

“This is heartbreaking, especially when you have fellow first responders who are flying a mercy mission to help somebody else out,” Sellers told reporters.

There had been no reports of anyone else injured in the crash, Sellers said.

The helicopter was a Bell 407, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will have investigators at the scene, he said.

Andrew Arthurs, a Survival Flight vice president, said in a statement he was “deeply saddened” to share the news of “a heartbreaking event.”

Michael Wilkins, president of Mount Carmel East, said in statement: “Our prayers are with the families of the crew members and Survival Flight team as we grieve this devastating loss.”