Medical helicopter crashes in south Alabama city of Andalusia
ANDALUSIA, Ala. (WSFA) - A medical helicopter crashed in the south Alabama city of Andalusia Friday afternoon.
The aircraft crashed across from Dean’s Cake House on Snowden Drive, according to Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman. This is packer Field, according to the city of Andalusia.
Chief Deputy Todd Grimes with the Covington County Sheriff’s Office said the call came in around 2 p.m. from a reserve deputy who also assisted those in the helicopter. He said a flight nurse and medic were on board the helicopter with the pilot.
Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson said two of the victims were taken to Andalusia Health. One was treated and released. The other was airlifted to Sacred Heart in Pensacola. The third victim was airlifted from the scene and is also being treated at Sacred Heart. The extent of their injuries is not known.
Authorities said no first responders or civilians outside of the helicopter were injured.
“We’re very fortunate the Andalusia Police Department had a very large area contained in Dean’s Field where the helicopter actually crashed,” said Grimes. “Had they not had such a big landing zone it could have been a whole lot worse.”
The landing zone existed because the area was set for “Huey” helicopters to do flights for the city’s celebration of the Vietnam Traveling Wall tour this weekend. Hudson said the downed helicopter was an emergency vehicle, not the Friends of Army Aviation U1-H1 “Huey” that had been giving rides in the opposite corner of the same field earlier in the day.
Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration later responded to the scene.
Hudson has requested the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the crash, but later said the board does not plan to investigate. He said the helicopter’s manufacturer, Airbus, is flying a team in from Wisconsin to inspect the aircraft, and the manufacturer of the engine also plans to come to the scene. Those inspections will not happen until Saturday afternoon.
The aircraft’s owner, Air Methods Corp., put out a statement on social media Friday night from Denisse Coffman, vice president of communications. It said, “Today an Air Methods aircraft experienced an accident in Andalusia, Alabama. The AS 350 aircraft was from the Life Saver program based in Evergreen, AL. There was no patient on board and the crew have been taken to the hospital and are receiving medical evaluation and care. The FAA and NTSB have been made aware of this incident and investigators are enroute to assess the situation. Our team will cooperate fully with their efforts to assess the cause of this unfortunate accident. Privacy rights with regards to those on board the aircraft will be honored, and we will not be sharing any additional information.”
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