Search Crews Struggle To Reach Wreckage In Heavily Wooded
A medical helicopter enroute to a Houston, TX hospital went down
early Sunday morning in a heavily wooded national forest near
Huntsville. Authorities report all four aboard were lost.
The Houston Chronicle reports crews struggled to find and reach
the wreckage of the Bell 407 (type shown above) in the dense Sam
Houston National Forest. "The helicopter was totally disintegrated
upon impact," said Department of Public Safety Trooper John Sampa.
"It took down a couple of pine trees."
The helicopter, operated by Louisiana-based PHI Air Medical,
departed Huntsville Memorial Hospital and was heading to Memorial
Hermann Hospital in Houston.
Sampa said the Montgomery County Hospital communications center
lost contact with the helicopter about 0247 local shortly after
departure. At 0300, the pilot failed to report the position
of the helicopter and authorities were alerted as protocol dictates
the pilot to give a position check every 15 minutes.
PHI said it tracked the downed helicopter through the onboard
global position system device.
A Department of Public Safety helicopter crew spotted the wreck
about 10 miles from where it had taken off according to PHI
spokesman Jonathan Collier. Ground crews were able to reach the
site by 0845 local.
is a devastating loss," Collier said.
Those lost in the accident were flight nurse Jana Bishop, pilot
Wayne Kirby and flight paramedic Stephanie Waters, all PHI
employees. The name of the patient on board and the medical
emergency involved were not released.
"PHI Air Medical is devastated by the loss of the patient and
our friends and colleagues," the company said in a statement. "We
mourn with the patient's family for their loss and are with the
families of our colleagues at this time."
Jennifer Kaiser, an air safety investigator from the National
Transportation Safety Board arrived on scene at 1615 local Sunday
and will lead the investigation. Others from Washington, DC and
Dallas are enroute, and were due to arrive Monday morning at the
crash site, about 70 miles north of Houston.