Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
AMERICAN MEDFLIGHT INC: http://registry.faa.gov/N775MF
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Reno FSDO-11
NTSB Identification: WPR17FA024
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, November 18, 2016 in Elko, NV
Aircraft: PIPER PA 31T, registration: N779MF
Injuries: 4 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On November 18, 2016, about 1920 Pacific standard time, a twin-engine, turbine powered, Piper PA-31T "Cheyenne II" airplane, N779MF, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of control during initial climb from the Elko Regional Airport, Elko, Nevada. The pilot, two medical crewmembers and one patient sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was being operated as an instrument flight rules (IFR) air transport medical flight by American Med Flight, Inc. under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an FAA instrument flight plan was filed but had not been activated for the intended flight to Salt Lake City, Utah.
During a telephone conversation with a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, a witness located at the Elko Airport, reported that the airplane departed runway 06. During the initial climb, he stated that the airplane made an initial left turn about 30 degrees from the runway heading, then stopped climbing and made an abrupt left bank and descended out of his line of sight.
The airplane impacted into a parking lot about .5 miles from the departure end of the runway, and immediately burst into flames. Several secondary explosions happened after impact as a result of fire damage to medical compressed gas bottles and several vehicles that were consumed by the post impact fire. The airplane sustained extensive thermal damage from the postcrash fire. All major structural components of the airplane were located within the wreckage.
The wreckage was recovered to a secure location, and detailed examinations of the airframe and engines are pending.
The closest weather reporting facility is the Elko Regional Airport (EKO). At 1856, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at EKO reported wind 110 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clear skies; temperature 33 degrees F; dew point 19 degrees F; altimeter 30.11 inHg.
Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email email@example.com.
NIBLEY, Cache County — Loved ones remembered fallen paramedic Jacob Jay Shepherd as intelligent, honorable and energetic as they paid their respects Monday and laid him to rest.
Shepherd's service as a paramedic "was an honor to him and to his wife," said his uncle, James Morrill.
"We will honor Jake. And we rejoice (in) Jake," Morrill said after the services. "And we love Jake for all the things that he did for others that we didn't know, that we are learning about (for his job)."
Shepherd, 24, was aboard a medical service plane that crashed Nov. 18 in Elko, Nevada, while transporting a man to University Hospital in Salt Lake City. He and three others, including the patient who was being transported for open-heart surgery, were killed on impact.
The husband and father of three was a paramedic with Mountain West Ambulance, which coordinates with Tooele County Emergency Medical Services. Tooele police called Shepherd "one of our own community's heroes" in announcing the tragic news.
Family and friends gathered for Shepherd's funeral at the LDS Stake Center in Nibley, where the Utah Firefighters Emerald Society paid tribute to him in a performance featuring the bagpipe, a drum corps and an honor guard. Graveside services were then held in Mendon City Cemetery.
"Today has been a real roller coaster up and down," Morrill said. "But (to see) the amount of people (and) strength of people — the EMS, all the firefighters, police … has been uplifting."
Shepherd's family is banding together to cope in the aftermath of his death, Morrill said.
"This is something that is very tragic, and something that we have to live with and help each other out," he said.
Morrill said his nephew was dedicated to his job, but also knew how to "have a really good time." Shepherd was brilliant, his uncle said.
"Jake served well, very honorably. … He would be out on a flight and he could rig up a pen or any other thing to help, and he was amazing," Morrill said. "Jake spent numerous hours studying what he already learned to become a better EMT."
Morrill's son, Matthew, said his whole family was "heartbroken" to learn of his cousin's death.
"He was a really good man and … the best cousin that I ever had," the boy said.
Family, friends and an honor guard accompany Jake Shepherd's casket during graveside services in Mendon on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Shepherd was one of three crew members of a medical aircraft that crashed just after takeoff on Nov. 18 while transporting a patient from Elko, Nevada, to University Hospital in Salt Lake City. All four people died in the crash. (Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)
Shepherd's obituary in the Deseret News said his life was filled with selflessness.
"Jake's life was based on serving others, it was not merely something he did but it was who he was. His love of serving others is what drove him," the obituary states. "He loved all people as was demonstrated through his daily acts of service and generosity. All those that met him felt they were better for having known him. His contagious laugh, quick wit, and off the wall sense of humor positively affected everyone who was lucky enough to experience it."
The obituary went on to say Shepherd will be "remembered for his unyielding kindness, tenderness, unconditional love, devotion, boundless energy, enjoyment of life and continuous service." It also said he appreciated a good practical joke.
"One time he hid under a desk for over an hour just to get a scream, anything for a laugh!" the obituary says. "He loved Halloween and being able to dress up in the craziest costumes and he loved family get-togethers. It wasn't until Jake arrived that the party started."
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the crash that took Shepherd's life. The others who were killed were Elko resident Tiffany Urresti, a nurse on board; Yuji Irie, the 63-year-old pilot from Las Vegas; and Edward Clohesey from Spring Creek, Nevada.
The Piper PA 31 fixed-wing plane crashed into a parking lot just across a roadway adjacent to the Elko Regional Airport, shortly after taking off, the Federal Aviation Administration has said.
Shepherd is survived by his wife, Sadie Brook Shepherd, who was also his high school sweetheart; his 4-year-old son, Jack; his 2-year-old daughter, Ruby; and his 1-year-old son, Dean. He served as a volunteer firefighter, eventually becoming a critical care paramedic and later a flight paramedic, his obituary says.
"He was amazing. He loved to study and better himself," Morrill said. "He lived a long life in how much he did and he learned and he gave."
Story and photo gallery: http://www.ksl.com
Tiffany Urresti, Flight Nurse
ELKO – Members of the Elko community gathered at the Elko Convention Center to mourn the loss of flight nurse Tiffany Urresti, one of four people who died Nov. 18 in an American Medflight plane crash in Elko.
The convention center was packed Saturday afternoon with representatives from firefighting organizations around the county and other residents who came to pay their final respects.
The hour-long funeral service included a eulogy from Urresti’s fiancé Jim Foster, and the people Urresti worked with throughout her firefighting and nursing career.
Foster talked about Urresti's love of adventure when addressing the crowded auditorium.
“We traveled when we could, exploring new things. Most of that time was me driving and her sleeping,” he joked. “We went kayaking and when we returned we had to buy a kayak. She loved to go fishing as well, even though she was terrible at it.”
John Burruel, president and CEO of American Medflight, said he was impressed with Urresti’s passion as an air nurse. When addressing the crowd, Burruel said finding a flight nurse like her who is able to make life-saving decisions while a patient is in transit is rare.
“She might have been new to flight medicine but she fit,” he said. “When we interview a nurse I ask, “is this a nurse that flies or is this a flight nurse?’ … I want you to know that she was one of a kind. She had that. Tiffany was a flight nurse.”
When Munson spoke again he instructed all of the emergency personnel in attendance to turn on their pagers.
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After turning on their pagers, Munson held his own pager up to the microphone while a dispatcher officially announced the end of Urresti’s duties.
Before Urresti’s coffin was carried out to the hearse by members of the firefighting community, Munson wanted to remind those in attendance that, though her death came too early, Urresti died doing what she loved.
“What I’ll always remember, and what I hope all of you will remember also, is how much work she put in to get where she was,” he said. “That should forever be an inspiration to all of us. She left us doing what she dreamed of doing and no one can ask for any better way.”
The Air Medical Memorial will honor pilot Yuji Irie, paramedic Jake Shepherd, nurse Tiffany Urresti and patient Edward Clohesey.
Clohesey was a miner who was planning to retire soon, and Urresti was an Elko woman who got her “dream” job with American Medflight just a few weeks ago and was engaged to be married to the assistant director of Elko’s airport.
The four were killed when an American Medflight plane crashed into the Barrick Gold Corp. parking lot around 7:30 p.m., setting off a series of explosions and destroying vehicles but harming no one on the ground.
Read more here: http://elkodaily.com
ELKO -- The four people killed Friday night in the crash of an American Medflight air-ambulance in Elko have been identified as pilot Yuji Irie; medical staff members Jake Shepherd of Utah and Tiffany Urresti of Elko; and patient Edward Clohesey of Spring Creek.
Tiffany Urresti, 29, was a flight nurse who had been with American Medflight for about two months, according to her parents Debbi and Jim Urresti. They said she had worked as an emergency room nurse at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital before that.
Urresti also was a former firefighter.
Elko Fire Chief Matt Griego talked about Urresti’s involvement with the volunteer fire department and said her father has been with the department 30 years.
“It hits home. The crew is coping as well as they can,” Griego said.
Griego said Urresti was known statewide for her service and there has been an outpouring from all over the state.
She had recently become engaged, according to Griego. He mentioned her fiancé, Elko Regional Airport Assistant Director Jim Foster. They were to be married in May.
Her parents said Tiffany had dreamed for years of working as a flight nurse.
Edward Clohesey was born in 1949 and lived in Spring Creek.
He was a gold miner who had suffered a heart attack in July, according to the Deseret News.
He was a patient of Dr. Rodney Badger at Northeastern Nevada Cardiology.
Clohesey was experiencing chest pains and rapid heartbeat around 5:30 p.m. Friday, after which the decision was made to transport him to a hospital in Utah for open heart surgery.
"He was really looking forward to retirement," Badger told the newspaper. "My heart goes out to his family and friends."
Jake Shepherd was a paramedic for Mountain West Medical Center, operated by Tooele County Emergency Medical Services.
Lt. Ray Clinton with the Tooele County Sheriff's Office told Fox13 News that Shepherd lived in Logan and commuted to work.
He leaves behind a wife and three children, according to KUTV News in Salt Lake City.
His friend Travis Allred said Shepherd died "doing what he loved, being a flight paramedic for American Medflight."
Allred set up a GoFundMe page to help Shepherd’s family.
Yuji Irie, 63, was a Japanese immigrant to the United States, according to American Medflight. A statement from the company said:
He wanted to fly his entire life, and never stopped in pursuit of his passion. Indeed, he became a skilled aviator and had saved hundreds of lives over a long career at American Medflight. He was based in Ely, Nevada, the toughest base for inclement weather in the American Medflight system. Despite the fact that Ely often experiences some of the most challenging weather conditions in the lower 48 states, Captain Irie was always ready to fly patients to urban medical centers where they could receive life saving care. His skill as a pilot far exceeded even the best of aviators.
Yuji's family was involved in travel and tourism. As a young man, he worked so hard that he often had little time to pursue his passion as an aviator. As soon as he had the chance in middle age, Yuji learned to fly and quickly built up his talent for aviation. He even bought a small airliner as a younger man in hopes of providing air tours for his travel and tourism business.
Having realized the huge financial obligations of owning an air carrier, Yuji eventually sold his airplane and went to work flying for others. He worked for several aircraft charter companies from Las Vegas all the way to the Mariana Islands in the South Pacific.
Captain Irie found his true life calling at American Medflight. He always was ready to go save a life and always found a way to safely transport his patients and medical crew regardless of the challenges he faced. He often noted that he wanted to finish his entire professional career as a pilot at American Medflight.
John Burruel, American Medflight's President and CEO, remembered Yuji as someone who was unstoppable.
"I've always said that if I had 50 Yuji's, this company would be unstoppable and we'd achieve anything we set out to do. He had the best work ethic I've ever seen and he cared for people with endless energy and compassion.”
Capt. Irie held an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and a First Class Medical Certificate, making him the most highly qualified pilot from both an airman certification and medical evaluation standpoint. He dreamed of building his own aircraft and someday flying it back to Japan. He began on this journey years ago, and his dream aircraft still sits in the garage of his son's home in Las Vegas ... waiting for that incredible flight across the Pacific to Japan.
RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Captain Yuji Irie was killed in a plane crash in Elko, Nev. on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016.
Yuji Irie was a Japanese immigrant to the United States. Irie always wanted to fly and never stopped in pursuit of his passion.
He became a skilled aviator and saved hundreds of lives over a long career at American Medflight.
Irie was based out of Ely, Nev. which is considered the toughest base for inclement weather in the American Medflight system.
Captain Irie was not just limited to the lower 48, he was always ready and willing to fly patients to urban medical centers where they could receive life saving care.
As soon as Irie has the chance, he learned how to fly and quickly built up his talent for aviation. He bought a small airliner when he was younger in hopes of providing air tours for his travel and tourism business.
He worked for several aircraft charter companies from Las Vegas all the way to the Mariana Islands in the South Pacific.
Captain Irie found his true life calling at American Medflight. He always was ready to go save a life and always found a way to safely transport his patients and medical crew regardless of the challenges he faced.
John Burruel, American Medflight's President and CEO, remembered Yuji as someone who was unstoppable.
"I've always said that if I had 50 Yuji's, this company would be unstoppable and we'd achieve anything we set out to do. He had the best work ethic I've ever seen and he cared for people with endless energy and compassion".
Captain Irie held an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and a First Class Medical Certificate, making him the most highly qualified pilot from both an airman certification and medical evaluation standpoint. Captain Irie dreamed of building his own aircraft and someday flying it back to Japan.
His dream aircraft still sits in the garage of his son's home in Las Vegas... waiting for the incredible flight across the Pacific Ocean to Japan.
Friends and family are asking for help to set up a memorial fund for a Tooele County flight paramedic who was killed, along with three others, in an Elko plane crash Friday night.
The Tooele County Sheriff's Office confirmed Saturday that Jake Shepherd was killed in the crash. Shepherd leaves behind a wife and three children.
A friend of Shepherd set up a GoFundMe page, which said Shepherd died "doing what he loved, being a flight paramedic for American Medflight."
Allen Kenitzer of the FAA Office of Communication said a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne crashed into the ground Friday evening in a parking lot northeast of the Elko airport.
The cause of the crash is unknown as of Saturday evening.
Other victims from the crash include Elko Firefighter Tiffany Urresti, patient Edward Clohese and pilot Yuji Irie.
Story and video: http://kutv.com
ELKO, Nevada -- We're learning more about two of the four victims who died in an American Medflight plane crash in Elko, Nevada Friday.
Jake Shepherd and Tiffany Urresti were both medical staff on board the aircraft.
Shepherd was from Utah and worked part-time as a paramedic for Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele. Those who knew and worked with him described Shepherd as a devoted public servant, known for his caring attitude.
"He had a big heart," said Joe Carnell, Ambulance Director with Mountain West. "He was dedicated to his community, he was dedicated to the public."
Carnell said Shepherd was known for his personality and jokes.
"He made everyone smile, laugh," he said. "You'd show up on shift with him, and you were laughing for the next two days."
There's so much to remember about Shepherd. His Mountain West crew spent days at a time with him for the past five years.
"He lived in the station, slept in the station, ate with the crews," Carnell said, of the two-day shifts. "As soon as someone called 911 and needed him, he would be the first one out the door."
Shepherd's public service went beyond his EMT skills. He worked in the Tooele jail for a short time two years ago.
Lieutenant Ray Clinton with the Tooele County Sheriff's Office said Shepherd lived in Logan and commuted.
"This is the community that he loved," he said. "It's going to be tough on the community because he was so well liked."
More recently, Carnell said, Shepherd had been working to complete his Critical Care Paramedic certification and worked in Nevada weekly, flying with a critical care transport team. That was on top of working part-time in Tooele.
Plus, Shepherd was raising a family. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
While they focus on grieving, the City of Elko Fire Department is also left remembering one of their own.
In addition to her medical duties, Tiffany Urresti served as a volunteer firefighter for the very organization that responded to the plane crash.
Elko Fire Chief Matthew Griego said he's known Tiffany her entire life.
"Her and her family have served Elko for a number of years, her dad Jimmy's been with the department 30 years," Chief Griego said, tearing up as he talked. "So, it hits home."
Greigo said Urresti had just gotten engaged.
Both her and Shepherd, tough losses to cope with, especially as each department carries on the public service that the two were known for.
Story and video: http://fox13now.com
ELKO, Nev. — One day after four people were killed when a medical aircraft crashed in Elko, Nevada, police say the pilot likely prevented additional casualties by crashing the plane into a parking lot while avoiding nearby homes and businesses.
The pilot, two medical crew and a patient were killed after the American Medflight plane crashed and caught on fire shortly after taking off from Elko Regional Airport Friday at 7:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. MT).
According to the Elko Police Department, Yuji Irie was piloting the aircraft. Tiffany Urresti and Jake Shepherd were aboard as medical staff. The patient was identified as Edward Clohesey.
Lt. Rich Genseal of the Elko Police Department said the plane went down in a parking lot for Barrick Gold Corp., where employees park their personal vehicles before taking buses out to a mine. He said the employees on the active shift had already departed by bus, so there weren’t any people in the lot at the time.
“The plane came down in a parking lot that’s probably only several hundred feet from the apartment complex, multiple dwellings,” he said. “Not to mention the surrounding areas around that is all housing. Where they came down is a parking lot, which happened to be empty at the time… So, for us, there couldn’t have been a safer place for him to come down with that plane without causing additional casualties, so we need to credit the pilot on that.”
Genseal said crashing into the empty lot may have saved lives, and he said by all accounts that part of the crash was no accident. While no one on the ground was hurt, several vehicles were destroyed by fire.
“We truly believe that the pilot did everything he could to avoid any further casualties by putting the plane down where he did,” Genseal said.
Genseal said some of the people killed in the crash are from the area, and the community has been hit hard by the tragedy.
"Some of these individuals, because they were local, it does hit home with us," he said. "A lot of us knew either one or multiple members on this plane. It hits home, pulls at the heartstrings. It's very neat to see the community turning out, putting out flowers, their attitudes toward the law-enforcement that's been here all night."
Well wishers brought flowers to the site of the crash, and other members of the community brought emergency responders food and drinks and other gestures of support.
Genseal said the Piper PA-31T Cheyenne experienced mechanical problems after take off and appeared to lose power while climbing. He said the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA will investigate along with employees from Piper Aircraft to determine exactly what went wrong.
ELKO – Friday night’s fiery American Medflight crash left four people dead and an entire community wondering just what went wrong.
The victims included two local residents, patient Edward Clohesey of Spring Creek and American Medflight crew member Tiffany Urresti of Elko. Also killed were crew member Jake Sheppard of Utah and pilot Yuji Irie, hometown unknown.
Clohesey was being transported to the University of Utah Medical Center because of heart problems, according to his doctor.
Authorities are still trying to determine why the plane crashed after takeoff from Elko Regional Airport around 7:30 p.m.
“What we do know is that an American Med Flight, described as Piper PA-31T Cheyenne, took off in a northeasterly direction headed to Salt Lake at around 7:30 p.m.,” said Police Lt. Rich Genseal. “As the plane climbed we believe at this point it experienced mechanical problems. We are not sure if it lost power or an engine. We know it lost altitude and crashed in the Barrick parking lot.”
According to Genseal, the plane was engulfed in flames upon impact.
Residents and law enforcement were saddened by the loss and deeply affected by the fact that both Urristi and Clohesey were locals.
“Tiffany was one of our volunteer firefighters,” said Fire Chief Matt Griego. “It hits home.”
At the time of this writing, little was known about Clohesey other than that he was a Spring Creek man and was the patient.
“The plane came down several hundred feet before an apartment complex,” said Genseal. “The parking lot was empty of people at the time.
“For us this could not have been a safer place for him to land. There couldn’t have been a safer place for him to come down without causing additional casualties. We need to credit the pilot on that.”
Genseal also mentioned that a hotel and casino are nearby the parking lot where the plane came down. He also said it was fortunate that Barrick Gold Corp. employees had all boarded the buses and left the vicinity before the crash.
A number of vehicles were destroyed by the crash.
“A lot of us knew either one or multiple members on this plane. It pulls at the heart strings,” said Genseal.
“It’s neat to see the community turning out and putting out flowers,” said Genseal. “Their attitudes toward law enforcement that have been here all night supplying coffee and doughnuts and stuff to eat. It’s huge, because they understand the magnitude of it.”
“At first we were told of explosions,” said Griego about the tragedy. “They were updated en route that in fact there was an aircraft down in the parking lot.”
One engine pulled near the apartment complex and the other proceeded into the parking lot to attend to the blaze and rescue attempt, Griego said.
“There was a very intense fire when firefighters arrived. There were multiple explosions. Engine one parked near the apartments to isolate any flames and the other engine proceeded into the parking lot to attend to the fire to do direct attack on the fire.
“We had approximately seven vehicles as well as the aircraft involved in the fire.” It was a pretty extensive fire when the crews arrived, he added.
Griego went on to mention Urresti’s involvement with the volunteer fire department and her father, Jimmy, has been with the department 30 years.
“It hits home. The crew is coping as well as they can.”
Urresti was known statewide for her service and Griego said there has been an outpouring from all over the state
Sadly, Urresti had recently become engaged, according to Griego.
Law enforcement said that they are still processing the scene and will document vehicular damage so people can report evidence to their insurance agents.
Genseal said the Federal Aviation Administration is on the scene and that someone from the National Transportation and Safety Board is en route.
ELKO, Nev. — The entire crew of a medical aircraft and a patient being transported to University Hospital in Salt Lake City died Friday when the plane crashed just after takeoff.
One of the crew members was a paramedic with Mountain West Ambulance, a service of the Tooele County Emergency Medical Services. Tooele police publicized the local loss via Twitter midday Saturday:
"We've learned that one of the paramedics killed in the American Medflight crash in Elko was one of our own community's heroes. We are deeply saddened at his loss, and the loss of all on board during the flight. Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of these great people. We thank you for your service."
The paramedic's identity and those of the others onboard have not yet been released.
The American Medflight air ambulance was taking a heart patient for further treatment, according to Dr. Rodney Badger, chief of cardiology at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko. He said the plane went down about 9 p.m. in a parking lot across the highway from the airport.
"It's a terrible situation, tragic for the community, tragic for the flight crew," Badger said, adding that the patient had come to the emergency room a few hours earlier with an acute cardiac syndrome.
Badger had been treating the patient, but made the decision to transport him to the U. for open heart surgery — "something we're unable to do in Elko."
The patient, an Elko-based gold miner, had suffered a heart attack in July and had worked closely with Badger.
"He was really looking forward to retirement," Badger said of the patient. "My heart goes out to his family and friends."
He said the air transport program is something they've been trying to get going in Elko — "a big, vibrant town" with about 50,000 people, some of whom need specialized treatment but wish to remain in Elko.
Gabriel Niculescu never thought he would be able to control his stutter. While speech therapy is common for children its availability becomes lesser as people age, but there are options available to adults.
The program, offering limited care locally, has been up and running about six months.
"We're over 225 miles from the nearest hospital with advanced care," Badger said. "So part of our project has been to roll out cardiac programs to the more rural communities like Elko, Rock Springs, Vernal. Unfortunately, this ended in disaster."
He said one of the nurses from the program's new cath lab was on the plane that crashed.
"She's one of our outstanding nurses in the emergency room," he said. "Really an outstanding nurse with advanced skills, compassionate, willing to get on the airplane and accompany the patient to Salt Lake."
It is unknown why the aircraft, a Piper PA 31 fixed-wing plane, crashed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the accident. The FAA reported all four on board the plane died upon impact and in the resulting explosion.
The crew on each American Medflight excursion typically includes an experienced pilot, flight nurse and paramedic, as well as the patient, according to the company's website.
"We are devastated by this event and wish we had answers to the many questions being asked at this time," said a statement from American Medflight President John Burruel. "As an air medical family, we are mourning the loss of our crew members and patient."
FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said nobody on the ground was hurt.
"There was not a lot left of the aircraft," said Elko Fire Chief Matt Griego.
A photograph published by the Elko Daily Free Press showed mostly burned wreckage on pavement in front of a line of vehicles in a parking lot. The wreckage included at least one charred pickup and the plane's tail was one of the few recognizable parts.
Burruel said the families of crew members have been notified of the accident.
"Our priority at this time is to look after the well-being of the affected family members and their co-workers and to be responsive to their needs."
ELKO, Nev. -- American MedFlight has confirmed the loss of three crew members and a patient in an air medical aircraft accident Friday evening in Elko, Nevada.
The company released the following statement:
"We are devastated by this event and wish we had answers to the many questions being asked at this time. We are cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as they investigate the accident.
As an air medical family, we are mourning the loss of our crew members and patient. Their families have been notified and they are in our thoughts and prayers. Our priority at this time is to look after the well being of the affected family members and their co-workers and to be responsive to their needs. We ask the media and interested parties to be patient with the investigation process and honor the privacy of the family and friends of those who have lost their lives."
Several people have been reported dead after a medical transport plane crashed in Elko, Nev. Friday night, according the Elko Daily Free Press.
FOX 13 News first received reports of the accident at about 8:30 p.m. The Elko Daily Free Press reports the medical aircraft was headed to the University of Utah Hospital with a heart patient when it went down.
The aircraft, a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne crashed under unknown circumstances in the Barrick Gold Corp. parking lot, which is northeast of the Elko Regional Airport, said Allen Kenitzer, with the FAA Office of Communications.
Kenitzer added local authorities say four people were on board the plane. He had no information as to the nature of their injuries.
However, Kenitzer said there were no ground injuries.
The Elko Daily Free Press reports the crash caused multiple explosions and sent flames into the air near the Gold Dust Casino, a grocery store and a senior housing complex. Several vehicles also caught fire.
Chet Gilbert, the owner of the nearby Sierra Java coffee shop, said his business was closed Friday night but they have since opened their doors and are offering coffee to people who have been evacuated from nearby businesses and restaurants.
The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash.
Story and video: http://fox13now.com
The crash caused multiple explosions and sent up flames near a busy casino, motel, grocery store and senior housing complex.
Dr. Rodney Badger of Northeastern Nevada Cardiology said the American Medflight plane had just taken off from Elko Regional Airport with a heart patient who was being transported to the University of Utah Medical Center.
Allen Kenitzer of the FAA Office of Communications stated the Piper PA-31T Cheyenne aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances with four people on board. He said there were no injuries on the ground.
“We are devastated by this event and wish we had answers to the many questions being asked at this time,” said a statement from American Medflight.
The airport is located across the highway from the Barrick lot, one of several used by miners who are bused to and from the region’s gold mines.
Elko police Lt. Rich Genseal said authorities assume the crash occurred as the plane was taking off.
“There was not a lot left of the aircraft,” Elko Fire Chief Matt Griego said after the flames were extinguished.
“As an air medical family, we are mourning the loss of our crewmembers and patient,” said the statement from John Burruel, president and CEO of Nevada-based American Medflight Inc. "Their families have been notified and they are in our thoughts and prayers. Our priority at this time is to look after the well being of the affected family members and their co-workers and to be responsive to their needs.”
Badger said his patient suffered from coronary artery disease and was experiencing chest pains and rapid heartbeat around 5:30 p.m., after which the decision was made to transport him to Utah.
Emergency crews were called around 7:30 p.m. and began blocking traffic from the highway and side streets.
Witnesses in the Smith’s shopping mall described a loud bang and felt the explosion as far away as Starbucks. Smoke could be seen from Smith’s parking lot.
Loud explosions were followed by a series of smaller ones as firefighters sprayed water on the flames and called in foam trucks.
The crash occurred on the northeast side of the parking lot, which is next to Hampton Inn, Smith’s Food & Drug, Gold Dust West casino, and an apartment complex for senior and disabled residents.
Elko City Councilman John Patrick Rice said several cars were destroyed or damaged.
The accident occurred between mining shifts, so it is unlikely anyone was in the parking lot when the crash occurred. Barrick buses en route from mines were directed to another company parking lot west of town.
The flames were contained about an hour after the crash but no one was allowed near the scene.
Kenitzer said the FAA and the NTSB will investigate.
American Medflight’s website states it is “the largest, most experienced fixed-wing air ambulance company in Nevada and Eastern California.” The company says it has transported 10,000 patients over hundreds of thousands of miles over the Western United States.
The company returned to Elko in 2014 after a six-year absence.
“Each American Medflight flight crew includes a pilot with a minimum of 4,000 hours of flight time, as well as a highly experienced flight nurse and paramedic,” according to the company.