Helicopter crashes on New Mexico hospital roof, pilot hurt

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 09, 2014 8:59 PM

By Joseph Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A medivac helicopter crashed moments after takeoff onto the roof of the University of New Mexico Children's Hospital on Wednesday, injuring the pilot but leaving two other crew members apparently unhurt, a hospital spokesman said.

The chopper, owned by a Louisiana-based company that provides corporate and medical evacuation flight services, was not carrying any patients at the time, and nobody in or on the building was hurt, according to the spokesman, Billy Sparks.

But Sparks said patients on the top two floors of the building, just below the helipad, were moved to other areas of the hospital as a precaution following the accident, which occurred at about 5:45 p.m. local time.

Local television news footage showed the wrecked helicopter lying on its side, with the cabin of aircraft intact but its rotors crumpled and the body of the chopper sharply bent, leaving the tail dangling over the side of the roof.

Witnesses told local media that the helicopter, which came down about 30 to 50 feet away from the landing pad, had appeared to be wobbling in the air shortly after its takeoff.

A small blaze ignited by the crash was quickly doused by a fire suppression system on the roof.

The pilot suffered unspecified injuries and was taken to the adjoining main hospital of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Sparks said. A flight paramedic and nurse who were aboard as passengers emerged unscathed but were also taken to the hospital for observation.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

(Reporting by Joseph Kolb in Albuquerque, Victoria Cavaliere in New York; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Lisa Shumaker)