A Duke Life Flight helicopter was traveling from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina when it crashed, killing all four people on board just around 11:45 a.m. local time Sept. 8, the News and Observer reported. The helicopter was transporting a patient to Duke Medical Center in Durham when it crashed in Perquimans County near Belvidere, close to the Virginia border and about 160 miles east of Raleigh.
Duke Life Flight was founded in 1985 and was the first hospital-based emergency transport service. It includes one other helicopter, both Eurocopter EC 145s, and five ground ambulances based in Durham and Smithfield. The helicopters provide service to all of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The cause of the crash is under investigation and the Perquimans County authorities are conducting the investigation until federal authorities arrive. Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been notified.
The crash is the second fatal medical helicopter crash in the U.S. this year. Righting Injustice previously reported another medical helicopter crash in May.
It was also the second Duke helicopter crash. A crash in 2000 killed the pilot, John A. Holland, when it was traveling to Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington. The helicopter involved in that crash developed mechanical problems just before the crash and an NTSB report on the crash indicated the main rotor gearbox’s oil pump had failed. The NTSB ruled that the mechanic failed to follow the manufacturer’s procedures for checking an oil pressure warning light.
“Life Flight provides basic life support transportation for patients discharged from Duke Hospital, critical care transportation, and ferries crews for organ harvest and retrieval,” the News and Observer noted. Staff includes critical care paramedics, advanced life support paramedics, emergency medical technicians, respiratory therapists and a dedicated neonatal/pediatric transport unit.
News and Observer