Three dead when helicopter on organ trip crashes in Florida

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 26, 2011 4:48 PM
Three dead when helicopter on organ trip crashes in Florida

(Reuters) - Two Mayo Clinic employees and a pilot died on Monday when their helicopter crashed in Florida on a flight to pick up an organ for a transplant, hospital officials said.

The helicopter and medical team was traveling between the clinic in Jacksonville and Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville, according to a statement from Mayo Clinic.

No patients were on board the helicopter, it said.

The medical team included Mayo Clinic cardiac surgeon Luis Bonilla and procurement technician David Hines, according to the statement from the Rochester, Minnesota, hospital.

The helicopter pilot, who was not employed by the clinic, also died in the crash, it said.

The Bell 206 helicopter operated by SK Jets in St. Augustine, Florida, had three people on board, including the pilot, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

The crash happened just before 6 a.m. local time about 12 miles northeast of Palatka, Florida, she said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Ian Simpson)