Saturday, March 07, 2015

Eurocopter EC 130B4, ARCH Air Medical Services - Air Methods: Fatal accident occurred March 06, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri

The pilot of a medical helicopter was killed late Friday in a crash near St. Louis University Hospital, a spokesman for the St. Louis Fire Department said. 

The pilot, identified Saturday afternoon as Ronald Scott Rector, 52, of Linn, Mo., was the only person aboard the helicopter. The helicopter was bound for the hospital to pick up a crew when it went down about 11:13 p.m. near Spring Avenue and Rutger Street, just west of the hospital, fire Capt. Garon Mosby said.

Mosby said the cause of the crash had not been determined. Federal Aviation Administration investigators were at the scene Saturday morning, and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were on the way. The NTSB is the lead agency on the investigation that will continue for several months.

The helicopter had just left the ARCH Air Medical Service base at 2207 Scott Avenue, near Highway 40 (Interstate 64) and Jefferson Avenue. In an emailed statement, ARCH's parent company, Englewood, Colo.-based Air Methods, said the helicopter was an EC-130.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that our sole occupant, our pilot, was fatally injured, and our hearts go out to the pilot’s family," the statement said. "The FAA and the NTSB have our full cooperation as they investigate the accident."

In operation since 1979, ARCH Air Medical Service provides critical care transportation from accident scenes and from hospitals and other medical institutions in Missouri and Illinois. Air Methods operates more than 450 aircraft nationwide in 48 states, including 363 helicopters through its air medical services division.

Rector joined ARCH's operations in Warrenton, Mo., in October 2013, according to a LinkedIn profile online, and was previously a pilot for Blue Hawaiian Helicopters in Hawaii and a U.S. Army pilot and instructor. His military experience included serving as a director at the Consolidated Personnel Recovery Center in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Funeral arrangements at Morton Chapel in Linn are pending. The town is about 90 miles west of St. Louis along U.S. Route 50.

Witnesses said they saw the helicopter and then heard what sounded like an explosion.

Willie Thomas, 57, of Jennings, said he was sitting in his truck with his son outside the hospital waiting for his daughter, who was inside getting X-rays.

Just before the crash, Thomas said he and his son saw a helicopter flying low with a light shining down on them and on the hospital. Then it dropped. He thought it had landed until he saw people running toward the crash site.

Barbara Grady lives in the 3600 block of Hickory and said she often watches from her porch as medical helicopters come and go. On Friday she was in bed when she heard a loud boom. When she looked out her front door, she feared a bomb had gone off.

"I saw lots of fire and lots of smoke," said Grady, 65. "I was just praying. I didn't know (what happened.)"

Her son Kenneth Grady, 48, said he heard what sounded like a truck dropping a large trash container and saw a fire with flames reaching as high as the top of a light pole.

"It rocked the neighborhood," Grady said.

His mother called 911 while he went across the street to see if he could help. He said it was difficult to tell what had happened and he didn't immediately recognize the flattened wreckage as the remains of a helicopter. The remnants of the aircraft didn't even reach as high as his knee. Someone from the hospital told him it was a helicopter crash.

Authorities were still investigating Saturday morning and had an area around the crash site blocked off. The hospital remained open. Dialysis patients needing access to Drummond Hall, at 3691 Rutger Street, can enter by going south on Spring Avenue from Chouteau Avenue.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the pilot," said SLU Hospital spokeswoman Laura Keller in an emailed statement.


ST. LOUIS – (KTRS) The pilot of a medical helicopter is dead following a fiery crash Friday night near the helipad of St. Louis University Hospital, a fire department spokesman said.

Shortly after 11 p.m., authorities said the pilot of a helicopter from ARCH Air Medical Services was heading back to the hospital to pick up his crew following an earlier call. Fire Capt. Garon Mosby said after dropping the patient and crew off at SLU Hospital the pilot returned to ARCH headquarters a couple of miles away. On his way back to SLU, the helicopter crashed.

The crash site is located on a parking lot less than 200 yards from the hospital’s helipad, which is located on the roof of the hospital. Crash Distance DISTANCE

Mosby confirmed that no one on the ground was injured, but there was damage to parked vehicles as well as portions of a hospital building.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s bomb and arson unit in charge of the scene until investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived.

No other information was immediately available.

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One person is dead after an ARCH Air Medical helicopter crashed in St. Louis late Friday night.

The St. Louis Fire Department said the helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff from the ARCH base just east of Jefferson and Interstate 64/40. The helicopter crashed shortly after 11 p.m. in the parking lot of Tenet Care, a healthcare service company, on Vista Avenue.

The helicopter struck an unoccupied pickup truck as it crash landed.

The fire department said the pilot was the only one on board and was on his way to pickup a crew. The pilot has not been identified.

"What we know is the helicopter had previously dropped off its crew and patient, and had departed and went to ARCH base, and was on approach back to SLU hospital to pick up [the pilot's] crew," said STLFD Captain Garon Mosby.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze. The St. Louis Police Bomb and Arson Unit is now in charge of the investigation. Mosby also expected the FAA to arrive sometime Saturday morning.

Matthew Viola works in a building nearby, and said he and his employees heard a loud bang when the helicopter crashed.

"I mean, it was loud. It shook our building and it's about 500 feet away," he said. "I had gathered up my crew and we all went to our back door of our building which looks out on this Tenet lot and we [saw] large amounts of fire and lots of flames and stuff."

Viola said he has worked in the area for about 1.5 years, and was completely surprised by what he saw.

"I see helicopters flying through here constantly," he said. "And I've never seen anything like that at all. They come in pretty wicked but nothing like that."

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