Federal investigators are in the Enterprise, Ala., area investigating the crash of a medical helicopter that went down in a wooded part of Coffee County around midnight Saturday, killing all four aboard the aircraft.
The Haynes Life Flight helicopter had responded to a car crash and picked up a patient before taking off for a Montgomery hospital. The helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350, was reported missing around 12:17 a.m. when it failed to show in Montgomery.
Law enforcement officials used search teams, air surveillance, and cell phone triangulation to look for the missing helicopter. Due to darkness and heavy fog, however, the wreckage wasn’t found until around 7:02 a.m. The Coffee County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) reported the Life Fight chopper went down in a swampy and heavily forested area near the Goodman community, about halfway between Enterprise and Opp.
Emergency workers told reporters that forestry service crews had to use bulldozers to clear a path to the helicopter crash site off of Coffee County Road 615. Rain and swampy conditions hampered the recovery mission.
The EMA identified the victims as Chad Hammond, the pilot; flight nurse Stacey Cernadas; flight medic Jason Snipes; and Zach Strickland, the patient.
The helicopter departed from its home base at Troy Regional Medical Center. Haynes Life Flight started operating out of Troy for the first time in October to better access 10 counties in South Alabama.
The three-person team responded to a single-vehicle crash on Coffee County Road 606 and picked up Mr. Strickland, who had sustained a broken leg and other injuries and was reportedly unconscious during the flight.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent investigation teams to the crash site on Saturday. The NTSB will lead the investigation, local law enforcement officials told the press.