The Latest: No distress call in medical helicopter crash

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 7:48 PM

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The latest on the crash of a medical helicopter in California (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The lead investigator of a medical helicopter crash that killed four people in California says there was no distress call from the crew before it went down amid heavy rain and fog.

Joshua Cawthra of the National Transportation Safety Board gave a briefing Friday on the first findings of the investigation.

He said his team is still gathering information on weather and mechanics and had nothing to say about how they have contributed to the Thursday night crash.

He said it does not appear that the many power lines in the area had any effect.

Cawthra said investigators are also looking at the pilot's training and history.

He says the perishable evidence is being collected before the helicopter is moved to a Sacramento warehouse for the long-term investigation.

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11:15 p.m.

Officials say all four people aboard are dead after a medical helicopter crashed in Central California.

American Ambulance General Manager Todd Valeri said at a news conference that the SkyLife helicopter from his company crashed on Thursday night.

The Kern County Fire Department says the helicopter was headed from Porterville to a hospital in Bakersfield when it went down in a field about halfway between the two at about 7 p.m.

There was heavy fog and rain in the area and it wasn't clear whether it caused the crash. It did prevent rescue crews from getting to the scene for about an hour after the site was spotted.

Valeri says the dead include a pilot, a nurse and a paramedic. It wasn't immediately clear whether the fourth person was a patient or someone else.

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9:15 p.m.

Fire crews in Central California are searching for a missing medical helicopter.

Kern County Fire Engineer Michael Nicholas tells KFSN-TV (http://bit.ly/1OV9qrk ) that the helicopter took off on Thursday night.

He did not know its destination. It wasn't immediately clear how many people are aboard.

Nicholas says emergency crews became concerned when the helicopter crew did not make contact with air officials for at least 30 minutes.

Conditions in Fresno are damp and foggy.