Investigators say that the medical helicopter crash that took the lives of three people last year happened because of the company’s lax safety procedures.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, in January 2019, a helicopter was heading from one hospital to another to pick up a patient when two bands of snow caused its pilot to make a sharp turn. The helicopter, which was not supposed to operate in low-visibility conditions, crashed into the rugged terrain about 75 miles southeast of Columbus.
All three occupants—pilot, Jennifer Topper; flight nurse, Bradley Hayes; and flight paramedic, Rachel Cunningham—were killed in the crash.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Survival Flight staff had not performed a thorough weather evaluation before the flight.
NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt blamed the accident on the poor procedures and actions of the Survival Flight company. Two other companies had opted not to accept the assignment that day due to weather concerns, authorities said; however, the pilot of Survival Flight was unaware of these conditions.
The safety board responded to the accident by recommending six changes to be made at Survival Flight, including revising flight risk assessment procedures. According to Ryan Stubenrauch, a spokesperson for Survival Flight of Batesville, Arkansas, the company has already implemented five on the recommendations and are working on the sixth.
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