PHOENIX (AP) — A medical helicopter crashed in rugged terrain east of Phoenix, killing two crew members and seriously injuring a paramedic who tried unsuccessfully to save the life of another victim, a sheriff said Wednesday.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said the helicopter crashed Tuesday evening on a mountainside about 12 miles north of Superior, a mining community outside Phoenix. An Air Force helicopter rescued the survivor, who had used a flashlight to signal at a search aircraft, at about 10:15 p.m., roughly four hours after the craft went down on a snowy, tree-covered slope.
The fuselage was largely intact, but other parts of the chopper were strewn about it.
One of the victims initially had signs of life and the paramedic tried to provide life-saving care, Babeu said.
"It was not successful — a tragic situation," he said.
Babeu said those killed were the pilot and the nurse, while the surviving paramedic is a 38-year-old man. All live in Phoenix suburbs, Babeu said. No patients were on board, said Christina D. Brodsly, a spokeswoman for Air Methods, which owns the company operating the aircraft.
No names were released. The helicopter was returning to Globe from a Mesa airport, Babeu said.
Babeu said an aerial search began after the helicopter was reported missing around 6 p.m. and that he knew of no radio transmission from the aircraft before it went down or any report from the public about a crash in the Tonto National Forest.
The paramedic was taken to a trauma center in the Phoenix area in "very serious, critical condition," Babeu said.
A Native Air helicopter first spotted the wreckage at about 8:30 p.m. and an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter located it about a half-hour later, but neither was able to land because of rugged terrain.
"From what I understand it's in a precarious situation," he said of the crashed helicopter.
The DPS helicopter crew saw the survivor signaling with a flashlight, Babeu said.
The crash scene was sealed off overnight to preserve evidence. National Transportation Board Safety investigators arrived at the scene Wednesday morning.