|A surgeon, nurse, and pilot were killed when a University of Wisconsin Hospital Med Flight helicopter crashed Saturday. (Peter Thomson/La Crosse Tribune via Associated Press)|
MADISON, Wis. - A medical helicopter dropped off a patient and then crashed shortly after it took off on its return flight to Madison, killing the surgeon, nurse, and pilot on board, officials said yesterday.
The University of Wisconsin Hospital Med Flight crew went down about 3 miles from the La Crosse airport, where it departed late Saturday, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.
The wreckage was found early yesterday, and preliminary reports indicate that the helicopter may have struck a hill or some trees, said Margaret Van Bree, the hospital's chief operating officer.
Killed in the crash were surgeon Darren Bean, nurse Mark Coyne, and pilot Steve Lipperer, she said. All three lived in Madison. Their ages were not immediately available.
There were no concerns about the weather before the crew took off about 10:30 p.m. The pilot was flying visually, not using instruments, at the time of the crash, said Med Flight director Mark Hanson. He did not know why the instruments were not in use. The aircraft was a new American Eurocopter EC13 leased from Denver-based Air Methods beginning in August, Hanson said.
There were no reported mechanical problems with this particular aircraft or its model, said Mike Allen, senior vice president of hospital-based medical services for Air Methods. The university hospital system has had an air flight program since 1985. This was the first crash.