Tuscon Air Ambulance Crash Claims Three Lives

July 29, 2010
Abram I. Bohrer

A medical helicopter crashed on a Tucson street and burst into flames Wednesday, killing all three people aboard. A witness said the pilot steered the plummeting chopper away from a house.

Witnesses told The Arizona Daily Star the helicopter crashed into a fence in front of the house on Park Avenue just south of Glenn Street.

The helicopter was owned by Colorado-based Air Methods. Officials with the air ambulance company confirmed that the pilot, flight nurse and paramedic were killed in the crash of the AS350 B3 Eurocopter, which was not transporting a patient at the time.

Air Methods officials said the names of the victims would not be released until Thursday at the earliest.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the helicopter was traveling to Douglas from Marana at the time of the crash. The helicopter was in contact with air traffic controllers before the accident, and there was no indication of trouble, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

Ricardo Carrasco told the Star he saw the helicopter plummet to the ground after the rotors stopped working. He said the pilot managed to steer it away from the house.

Tucson firefighters extinguished the fire. No injuries were reported on the ground.

The FAA was sending inspectors to the crash site and will conduct the investigation along with the National Transportation Safety Board