THREE DEAD: Hospital Helicopter Crash
More details have been released about a fatal hospital helicopter crash in northern Iowa.
A news conference was held Thursday morning at Mercy Medical Center North Iowa in Mason City. Officials say its medical helicopter Mercy Air Med went down on its way to pick up a patient at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday night.
The hospital says there were three people in the helicopter when it crashed in a field in Ventura. There were no survivors.
Mercy says the nurse on board was Shelly Lair-Langenbau, known to friends and family as Shell. She had worked at Mercy for about 15 years.
The paramedic was Russell Piehl, or “Russ” and he had been working at Mercy for about five years.
The pilot was Gene Grell. He was a pilot with the helicopter service, Med-Trans. An official with the company says Grell did not live in the Mason City area, but was in the process of relocating for the job. He began his job with Med-Trans in October of 2012.
Hospital officials say the chopper was on its way from the hospital in Mason City to Emmetsburg to pick up a patient.
Dan Varnum, the President and CEO of Mercy North Iowa says the cause of the crash is still unknown.
Varnum released a statement Thursday morning on the loss of the crew:
“They were each selfless healthcare professionals devoted to the delivery of emergency medical care. While they fulfilled significant duties, they played a greater role as our neighbors and friends.”
Their coworkers are struggling to deal with the devastating news. Hospital officials tell WHO everyone is still in disbelief and shock. They say nothing like this has ever happened before at Mercy North.
Members of Mercy North Iowa’s spiritual care department and counselors pan to be on hand to help in the hours and days ahead.
The crash is being investigated by several law enforcement agencies, including the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office, the NTSB, and the FAA.