McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

June 12, 2013

UPDATE: One dead in copter crash

McALESTER — A patient picked up by an EagleMed helicopter dispatched from McAlester died Tuesday night after the helicopter crashed soon after takeoff at the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center in Talihina.

A flight nurse aboard the helicopter was listed in critical but stable condition Wednesday afternoon, according to EagleMed.

A paramedic and the pilot who were also on board the helicopter were treated and released, according to EagleMed.

Names of the deceased person as well as the injured flight nurse were still being withheld Wednesday.

The pilot was identified by EagleMed as Kip Sorensen, of Montana. The paramedic who was treated was Ryan Setzkorn, of Oklahoma, according to Robbie Copeland, director of public relations and marketing for EagleMed.

The man who died was 49 years old and from the local area, according to David Wharton, public information officer for the Choctaw Nation Health Services, who was on the scene at the Talihina hospital early Wednesday.

The crash occurred around 6:30 Tuesday night, said Brandy Griffin, a public information officer at the hospital.

 McAlester Regional Health Center Chief Executive Officer David Keith confirmed that the helicopter had been dispatched from McAlester hospital.

The crash occurred after the patient had been placed on board in Talihina for transport to a hospital in Tulsa, according to Wharton.

“It happened upon take-off,” Wharton said. The helicopter crashed “literally yards from our emergency department,” he said.

“We were on the scene immediately,” Wharton said. “We enacted our disaster policy.”

Two of the injured were able to get out of the crashed helicopter with minimal assistance,” Wharton said. It took more of an effort to get the injured nurse and the patient extracted from the helicopter.

The patient was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to Wharton.

The Federal Aviation Administration had personnel at the Choctaw Nation hospital in Talihina early Wednesday and personnel from the National Transportation Safety Board were also enroute to help with the investigation.

Meanwhile, several who were at the scene, who did not want to be publicly identified, said it appeared that the helicopter hit a light pole in the parking lot upon takeoff. One witness said it looked like a gust of wind pushed the helicopter into the pole. That could not be independently confirmed by press time.

Wilburton Fire Chief David Donoley joined those rushing to the site of the crash. He praised the Talihina Fire Department for having the scene contained, but firefighters faced another problem.

“We stayed on the scene because of leaking jet fuel,” Donoley said. “Our main concern was ignition of jet fuel and the explosion that would follow.”

Firefighters literally dammed some of the jet fuel to keep it from spreading further.

“We had to contain that until the HAZMAT team got there,” Donoley said. Fortunately for those at the site, no explosion occurred because of the leaking jet fuel.

Personnel from the Choctaw Tribal Police, who will likely lead the local phase of the investigation, the Latimer County Sheriff’s Department, the Wilburton Police Department and the Talihina Police Department were among those who rushed to the scene.

Latimer County Sheriff’s Investigator Billy Dickson said three other medical helicopters flew to the hospital in Talihina after the Tuesday night crash.

Copeland said the helicopter that crashed was a Eurocopter A Star B2.

He said he did not have information immediately available at the time about whether the flight crew members lived in McAlester, but they were definitely working out of McAlester on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, along with the tragic human cost, the crash has left the McAlester Regional Health Center without the services of a medical helicopter for the time being.

Asked when another medical helicopter would be available for service at the McAlester hospital, Copeland said, “We’re going to be working on that; I don’t have a date.”

The Tuesday night crash at Talihina marked the second crash of an EagleMed helicopter this year. Two people were killed and another critically injured following an EagleMed crash in Oklahoma City in February.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smartphone.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
NDN Video
Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down Rise of the Milkbots TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl High school, College Drug Ring Busted In Montgomery County High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Raw: Keflezighi, Jeptoo Win Boston Marathon Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Lindsay Lohan's Jaw-Dropping Secret President Sends Message To Boston And Marathon Runners LA Pastor Attracts Churchgoers with Pot Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.