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Oklahoma crash kills two

July 26, 2010  By The Associated Press

July 26, 2010, Kingfisher, Okla. - A medical helicopter on its way to pick up a patient crashed in a secluded field in central Oklahoma late Thursday, killing the pilot and one of the two nurses on board, authorities said.

The helicopter was en route from Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City to a hospital about 145 kilometres away in Okeene when it went down at about 8 p.m. local time near Kingfisher, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

Kingfisher is about 80 kilometres northwest of Oklahoma City.

"Three people were on board, but one of them survived and is in the process of being airlifted back to Oklahoma City," Lunsford said late Thursday.

The pilot, Al Harrison, and nurse Ryan Duke died in the crash, according to a statement early Friday by EagleMed LLC, the Wichita, Kan.-based operator of the AStar 350 helicopter.


EagleMed spokeswoman Shelia Rupp-Haag said Michael Eccard, a nurse and paramedic, was taken to hospital for treatment of injuries.
Crash cause undetermined

Rupp-Haag said no patient was on board, and the circumstances of the crash were still uncertain.

Kingfisher Mayor Jack Stuteville, who owns property near the crash site, was among the first on the scene. He said a man working on the land called him and told him he'd just seen a helicopter spin, then hit the ground.

"By the time I got there it was already burned to pieces. The bodies were charred beyond recognition. It was bad," Stuteville said.

The lone survivor was about 50 metres from the wreckage, he said. "I have yet to figure out how he got out — if he was thrown out or had enough adrenaline to get out on his own," Stuteville said.

He described the area as secluded, with few homes nearby.

"The neighbours didn't even know anything had happened until all the news helicopters started flying around," he said.

Integris Baptist spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said the hospital contracts with EagleMed for medical flight services. "They are not our employees, but it is our pain anytime something like this happens," Cayot said.

Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were headed to the crash site, Lunsford said.


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