1 dead in medical helicopter crash in eastern Oklahoma

AP News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2015 4:38 PM

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The pilot of a medical helicopter died and a nurse and paramedic were injured when their aircraft crashed in remote woods near Eufaula in eastern Oklahoma, authorities said Friday.

No patients were aboard the Airbus AS350 as it was flying to McAlester from Tulsa and crashed late Thursday — marking the fourth deadly accident for Kansas-based medical transport service EagleMed LLC since 2010.

Searching on foot and with all-terrain vehicles, authorities found the wreckage early Friday at the site about 120 miles east of Oklahoma City. Pilot Matt Mathews was killed in the crash and nurse Kim Ramsey and paramedic Ryan Setzkorn have non-life threatening injuries, company officials said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said investigators were being dispatched to the crash site. The National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation.

"First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those involved and our entire EagleMed family," company president Larry Bugg said in a statement.

EagleMed operates a 15-helicopter fleet that conducts thousands of flights annually and serves communities in several states, mostly in rural parts of the country.

The company's third deadly crash came in 2013, when a patient died after a medical helicopter crashed near the Choctaw National Health Care Center in Talihina in southeastern Oklahoma. Two other double-fatality EagleMed helicopter crashes happened in Oklahoma City in 2013 and near Kingfisher in 2010.

EagleMed spokesman Jim Gregory said the company adheres to "rigorous safety initiatives."

"I'd like to point out that EagleMed has recently received the highest recognition available within the medical transportation industry for its safety process, procedures and culture," said Gregory, who added that the company has reached the highest level of the FAA's voluntary Safety Management System.