Medical helicopter crashes in heavy rain, fog; 4 dead

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Four Killed in Medical Helicopter Crash in Bakersfield, California.

FRESNO, Calif. FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A medical helicopter carrying a patient to a hospital crashed amid heavy rain and fog in a rural area of central California, killing all four people aboard, officials said. The SkyLife air ambulance had a pilot, a nurse, a paramedic and a patient aboard when it went down in a remote field about halfway through its planned 50-mile trip Thursday night, American Ambulance president Todd Valeri said at a news conference. The Bell helicopter was headed from Porterville Municipal Airport south to San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield when it crashed, Kern County fire officials said. Officials did not say why the patient was being taken to the hospital, and the names of the dead are being withheld until family members can be informed.

There was dense fog and heavy rain in the area and it wasn’t clear whether that caused the crash, but “weather conditions are always a factor,” Valeri said. The weather also made it difficult to find and reach the site, and rescue crews didn’t get there for more than two hours after the helicopter went missing. The crew notified flight dispatch that it was leaving Porterville at 6:52 p.m., according to Dan Lynch, EMS Director for Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties. After checking with airport towers in Fresno and Bakersfield, the dispatch center notified Kern County authorities that the aircraft was missing and provided its last GPS reading.

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