A medical helicopter crashed while on the way to pick up a sick child in southern Tennessee early Tuesday, and 3 were killed. Involved in the fatality were the pilot, and two employees of a children’s hospital in Memphis, officials at the hospital have reported.
The helicopter went down about 6:21 a.m. near the small town of Somerville, TN. That is almost halfway between Memphis and where the chopper was heading, the town of Bolivar, TN. Hospital officials at Memphis’ Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital released this information to the public on Tuesday afternoon.
Killed in the crash were pilot Charles Smith, age 47, of Eads, TN, registered nurse Carrie Barlow, age 43, of Halls, TN, and respiratory therapist Denise Adams, age 43, of Arlington, TN, said the hospital in its press release.
The medical crew, who were from the Hospital Wing air ambulance service, was on route to pick up a young boy who was in kidney failure at a hospital in Bolivar and fly him to Le Bonheur in Memphis, but the helicopter never got to its destination, the hospital CEO Meri Armour reported.
Above ground video of the crash site showed smoke lifting up from debris in a timbered area. Officials stated that they do not yet have any information as to why the crash occurred.
The three of them had taken care of a lot of children in their short lives, stated Dr. Jay Pershad, who is the medical administrator of Le Bonheur’s air transport service. He talked about the crew Tuesday and that he could not explain how hard it was for the entire team to deal with such a tragedy at this time.
The boy that was supposed to be taken by the helicopter to Memphis was instead rushed by ambulance to Le Bonheur Tuesday after hospital administrators were notified of the helicopter going down. His condition is unknown at this time.
This deadly crash is the second in approximately three years for Hospital Wing, stated business CEO Bill Conway.
In March of 2010, three other individuals perished when a Hospital Wing helicopter crashed near Brownsville, TN, investigators said.
In that particular crash, the chopper was coming back to Brownsville after releasing a patient in Jackson, TN officials stated.
It is uncertain what caused the crash on Tuesday; Conway stated and also added that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will be coming in to investigate.
He also stated that he was greatly saddened by what had happened with the crash and that the three crew members were close friends of his.
Hospital Wing air ambulance provides emergency services to hospitals in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas, and they carry around 150 patients every month, it states on the Hospital Wing air ambulance website. Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital members take about 400 helicopter flights each year.
But by this helicopter going down and these 3 being killed in yet medical helicopter crash, it just goes to show the danger of air ambulance flights and how some medical personnel put themselves in danger almost every day to save the lives of others.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble