(Reuters) - A medical helicopter transporting a patient to a north Texas hospital crashed early Saturday near downtown Wichita Falls, killing the passenger and injuring all three crew members, authorities said.
The patient, whose name was not immediately disclosed while family was notified of the accident, was en route to United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls from Waurika, Oklahoma, when the crash occurred just before 2 a.m., according to a statement on the city's official website.
The patient died at the scene, the statement said.
The helicopter's pilot was listed in stable but serious condition at United Regional Hospital.
The flight nurse and paramedic were sent to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, about 135 miles southeast of Wichita Falls, the statement said. Their condition was not disclosed.
The cause of the crash one block north of the hospital was under investigation and the helicopter erupted in flames at some point, badly charring its frame, Wichita Falls Fire Chief Jon Reese told the city's Times Record News.
"We're in the very early stages of piecing things together right now," Reese told the newspaper.
The Bell 206 LongRanger III helicopter was operated by Air Evac Lifeteam, an air ambulance service headquartered in Missouri.
The Wichita Falls Air Evac team was standing by to help unload the passenger, who was being transported with life-threatening injuries, and was the first crew to respond to the crash site, Reese told the Times Record News.
"They made a heroic effort in saving their co-workers," he said.
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive at the scene later Saturday morning, the statement said.
(Reporting by Frank McGurty in New York and Victoria Cavaliere in Seattle; Editing by Mark Potter)