Monday, June 30, 2008

Local Tragedy, National News

Yesterday afternoon, I happened to be looking up at Mt. Eldon, when a puff of smoke turned into a billowing cloud. Talking with friends, we joked that another friend who's the fire lookout on the mountain finally had something to do. Then word came out that it was a helicopter crash.

Death rained from the sky over Flagstaff Sunday afternoon as a midair collision of two medical helicopters killed six and critically injured a seventh.

The aircraft were each carrying patients to Flagstaff Medical Center and went down at 3:49 p.m. on McMillan Mesa about a half-mile east of the hospital. An exploding fuel tank in one of the aircraft slightly injured two ground ambulance workers and touched off a 10-acre wildfire that was extinguished by local firefighters.

First, I was worried about several people I know who work for one of the companies. Today the names of the victims were released, and I had a brief panic as one of the names was the same as that of a good friend. A river running buddy. But also a fairly common name. Luckily for me, it wasn't the same person. Not so lucky for the victim.
Living in Northern Arizona where 100's of miles separate people from hospitals, medical helicopters are our lifeline in an emergency. NTSB is investigating, and I hope they find out what went wrong quickly and take measures to prevent future accidents. A lot of people's lives depend on this service.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was playing darts at my friend's place downtown. During a break sitting outside we watched a helicopter flying over heading north. A short while later we heard a loud boom. I did not hear what happened or connect the helicopter with the sound till later Sunday night. This is a rare and tragic accident. Perhaps they can put in a small flight control center at the hospital to avoid this in the future. Really sad.