NTSB investigates medical helicopter crash - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

NTSB investigates medical helicopter crash

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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SOMERVILLE, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Federal transportation officials have started their investigation into Tuesday's predawn Hospital Wing helicopter crash in Somerville, Tenn.

Three crew members were killed when the medevac helicopter went down in Fayette County. The team from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital was headed to pick up a sick child in Bolivar.

MORE: 3 killed in Hospital Wing crash identified

Pilot Charles Smith joined Hospital Wing in 2012. He was a 25-year veteran of the Memphis Police Department aviation unit. Carrie Barlow was a Le Bonheur Pedi-Flight nurse. She's been with the hospital since 2012, worked as a nurse in West Tennessee for 13 years. Denise Adams was Le Bonheur's respiratory therapist on the flight. She has worked on the flight team for the last eight years.

MORE:  DENISE ADAMS BIO

MORE:  CARRIE BARLOW BIO

MORE:  CHARLES SMITH BIO

MORE:  Le Bonheur reacts to team members who died in tragic crash

MORE: Hospital Wing pilots known as best in business

The National Transportation and Safety Board started going over evidence Tuesday evening and they're putting together an investigative team. But NTSB Investigator Ralph Hicks said it's too early to speculate about a cause.

NTSB investigators arrived at the crash site as the sun was setting. Crews spent the day combing the wreckage, with police and sheriff's deputies securing the scene.
 
Federal transportation officials will be on site for days.

"I've taken a preliminary walk through of the accident site and what I see so far is about 90-percent of the helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and a post crash fire," Hicks said. "The helicopter appears to be confined into one relatively small area."

The Hospital Wing helicopter took off around 6 in the morning. About 20 minutes later the NTSB said it went down in a wooded area in Somerville.

There's no record of a distress call. The Hospital Wing lost contact with the chopper.

"We're going to be spending the first two days primarily here at the accident site going through the accident scene documenting all of the evidence photographs looking at parts," Hicks said.

The NTSB is interviewing witnesses, looking over weather data, and putting together an investigative team with the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft manufacturer, the company that made the engines, and a representative from Hospital Wing.

It could be months, possibly a year, before federal investigators determine the cause of the crash.

"It's very early to be making any kind of judgements on speed or trajectory," Hicks said.

Hicks said all the parts of the helicopter, including the blades and tail rotor, are on the crash site. The entire wreckage burned on impact. The investigators know the Pedi-Flight crew's family members want answers.

"Our condolences go out to the families of the crew members involved in this accident, and of course our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time," Hicks said.

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