Last week it was a buddy that died in an avalanche. This morning it was a good friend that was piloting an air ambulance flight. Crashed on approach to Rawlins Wyoming
Three dead in air ambulance crash
By Scott Stanford, Editor
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
RAWLINS, Wyo. — Three of four members of a Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crew died late Tuesday night when the plane crashed near Rawlins, Wyo., Yampa Valley Medical Center officials reported.
The plane, a 1978 Beech E-90 King Air turbo prop operated by Mountain Flight Service of Steamboat Springs, carried a pilot and three Yampa Valley Medical Center employees. Names have not been released.
The plane was en route to Rawlins to transport a patient from Carbon County Hospital in Rawlins to Wyoming Medical Center in Casper when it went down around 9:40 p.m., Carbon County Sheriff Jerry Colson said. An ambulance crew waiting on the ground in Rawlins to load the patient, who reportedly had been injured in a car accident, reported the plane as overdue, said Dave Perry, publisher of Rawlin's Daily Times newspaper who was at the search command center Tuesday night.
At about 10:05 p.m. Tuesday, Yampa Valley Medical Center was notified that the air ambulance was overdue at the Rawlins Municipal Airport. Around the same time, a crewmember used a cell phone to notify emergency personnel that the plane had crashed.
Emergency officials mobilized to find the plane, but were faced with the daunting task of finding the plane in the dark, in heavy snow in wide-open sagebrush-covered terrain punctuated by draws and ridges. Their only clues to the plane's location were radar tracking of its flight course and the words of the person on the cell phone, who said he could hear a train whistle and sirens, Perry said.
Agencies from all over the region were called in to assist with the search and rescue, including the Rawlins and Sinclair police departments; Rawlins Search and Rescue, the Carbon County, Rawlins, Hanna and Sinclair fire departments; the Bureau of Land Management, the Wyoming Highway Patrol; Rawlins Ambulance, Emergency Management, civilian volunteers, Red Cross and France Flying Service, according to a press release from the Carbon County Sheriff's Office.
He said 18 people on four-wheelers were dispatched to search a grid pattern in hopes of finding the plane. Crews also used two mobile receivers to find signals from the plane's Emergency Locator Transmitter, which ultimately lead them to the crash site just before 2 a.m. The plane was found on the opposite side of Shark Tooth Ridge from the Rawlins Municipal Airport, about 3 1/2 miles northeast of the runway.
The location of the crash indicated that the pilot, who reportedly was attempting to make an instrument landing, was right on the correct flight path, but for unknown reasons went down too soon, Perry said.
The surviving crewmember was taken to Carbon County Hospital in critical condition, Yampa Valley Medical Center officials said.
Rawlins is about 150 miles north of Steamboat Springs.
"All of us at Yampa Valley Medical Center are deeply saddened and shocked at this tragic loss," said Karl Gills, CEO of Yampa Valley Medical Center. "All of those aboard are committed to providing extraordinary care to their sick and injured patients. Our entire organization and those who worked with the air ambulance program have been impacted."
Yampa Valley Medical Center provides the medical personnel for the air ambulance flights. Mountain Flight Service, owned and operated by Bob and Cindy Maddox, is contracted to operate the air ambulance. Mountain Flight Service is based at Steamboat Springs Airport--Bob Adams Field.
The Maddoxes could not be reached for comment.
It is not yet known what caused Tuesday's crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and are expected in Rawlins this afternoon. Rawlins residents said it was snowing heavily at the time the plane went down, but it is not known what impact the weather had.
This is the second time in less than two years that the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance has gone down. On March 19, 2003, the air ambulance crashed near Kremmling in an incident that was blamed on pilot error. The pilot was later terminated. The three people on the plane in that crash walked away with minor injuries.
The air ambulance was damaged in the 2003 crash and was replaced with a plane that was dedicated on May 18, 2003. The replacement plane was a 1978 Beech E-90 outfitted with emergency medical supplies and equipment for use in transporting patients.
Condolences and prayers.
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