Three Crewmembers Injured
A critically ill patient
being transported onboard a medical helicopter that went down
Tuesday evening in Washington, DC has died at a local hospital.
Steven Gaston, 51, was picked up from Washington's Greater
Southeast Hospital by a medevac Eurocopter EC-135 (file photo of
type, below) at approximately 4:40 Tuesday afternoon, for transport
to Washington Hospital Center. Janis Orlowski, the hospital
center's chief medical officer, told the Washington Post Gaston's
condition was "quite unstable" when he left the hospital, and that
he needed a "tertiary level" of care.
The helo -- which was also carrying the pilot and two
crewmembers -- experienced problems just before reaching its
destination. Its pilot issued a mayday call about five minutes into
the seven-mile trip to the hospital.
Witnesses say the helo fell from clear skies onto a golf course
less than a mile from Washington Hospital Center.
"I could see [the helicopter] laboring," said witness Jay
Speights, who was in the golf course parking lot at the time of the
accident. He told the Post he watched the helicopter circle and
heard its engine sputter, before it disappeared behind a hill.
Speights said he then heard "a large metal object hitting
Alan Etter, spokesman for the DC fire and emergency services
department, said that as passersby and rescue crews responded to
the accident, the pilot, flight paramedic and flight nurse also
onboard the helo gave instructions on how to care for the
Etter said Gaston's breathing tube was dislodged in the crash --
but by the time paramedics were able to remove Gaston from the
scene, he was breathing again. Unfortunately, Gaston later died at
the hospital, approximately six hours after the crash.
The as-yet unidentified crewmembers were injured in the
accident, with all three listed as in serious but stable condition
It is not yet known what brought the helicopter down, or if the
accident contributed in any way to Gaston's death.