History of EagleMed crashes in Oklahoma

Following Friday's EagleMed helicopter crash FOX23 looked into the history of crashes the company has had in Oklahoma.

FOX23 learned from NTSB records this is the fourth fatal crash for an EagleMed helicopter, including Friday's crash.

Here are the preliminary reports from those crashes:

JULY 2010 (Kingfisher Co.)

On July 22, 2010, approximately 1925 central daylight time, a Eurocopter AS 350 B2, helicopter, N918EM, impacted terrain near Kingfisher, Oklahoma. The commercial pilot and one flight nurse were fatally injured and one paramedic flight nurse was seriously injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to and operated by EagleMed LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules (VFR) company flight plan. The helicopter departed the Integris Baptist Medical Center Heliport (OK19), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at 1913 to pick up a patient in Okeene, Oklahoma.

In an interview with the surviving paramedic flight nurse, he recalled that during the flight to Okeene, the left side door had come unlatched and was slightly ajar (about one-half inch). The paramedic informed the pilot that he was getting out of his seat to close the door and secure the handle. The pilot acknowledged the paramedic. After securing the handle, the paramedic stated that he had sat back down and begun to gather his seatbelt when a conversation began about another pilot flying on a coyote hunt. The paramedic reported that the pilot made a statement similar to "like this… (with some laughter)" and made a nose down control input. He reported that the pilot pulled up on the collective and the helicopter struck a tree. During the ground impact, the paramedic, who was not secured in his seat, was thrown through the windscreen; the paramedic crawled away from the wreckage and dialed 911 on his cell phone.

The company monitored the helicopter's position through a Sky Connect device, configured to report a position about every five minutes. The last position report, recorded at 1919, depicted the helicopter at 1,509 feet mean sea level (msl), flying northwest, at 131 knots. This last reported position was approximately 11 nautical miles southeast of the accident site.

FEBRUARY 2013 (Oklahoma City)

On February 22, 2013, approximately 0542 central standard time, an Eurocopter AS350B2 emergency medical service (EMS) configured helicopter, N917EM, registered to Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Inc., care of EagleMed LLC, of Wichita Kansas, impacted in the parking lot of St. Ann’s Retirement Home located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 as a repositioning flight. The intent of the flight was a prescribed inter-hospital transfer of a cardiac patient from the Watonga Municipal Hospital to the University of Oklahoma Medical Center. Of the three crewmembers onboard, the commercial pilot and flight nurse sustained fatal injuries and the paramedic sustained serious injuries. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity along the route of flight and accident site and a company flight plan was filed with EagleMed flight dispatch control. The flight originated from the Integris Baptist Hospital (OK19) helipad at 0538 and its intended destination was Watonga, Oklahoma.

SkyConnect satellite data showed that the helicopter departed OK19 and began a gradual climb on a northwest bearing toward Watonga. The data stopped approximately 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the flight.

A person who was driving in the vicinity of the accident site reported that he distinctly observed a "flash" in the sky in front of him. After the flash, he saw the helicopter in an increasingly rapid descent before it disappeared behind buildings. He then drove toward an area where smoke was emanating and saw that the helicopter was on fire in the parking lot of St. Ann's. He immediately assisted others (St. Ann's employees) in pulling the surviving paramedic away from the burning aircraft.

Fixed video surveillance cameras located on a building adjacent to the parking lot showed the last few seconds of the helicopter descending toward the ground. The video showed that the helicopter burst into flames upon impact. From the initial impact point, the debris path was approximately 75 feet in length, on a heading of 065 degrees magnetic. All of the impact signatures were consistent with a right side low (approximate 40 degree) attitude, with a high rate of descent. Using the geometry of impact signatures and adjacent structures clearance, the helicopter's angle of descent was approximately 25 degrees.

JUNE 2013 (Tahlahina)

On June 11, 2013, at 1830 central daylight time, N935EM, a Eurocopter AS350B2 helicopter, operating as EagleMed 35, was substantially damaged after impacting terrain during takeoff at Choctaw Indian Hospital Heliport (OK35), Talihina, Oklahoma. A small postimpact fire ensued. The passenger was fatally injured, the flight nurse was seriously injured, and the pilot and flight paramedic sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was registered to JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., Columbus, Ohio, and was operated by EagleMed, LLC, Wichita, Kansas. Day visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident and a company visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 emergency medical service flight. The helicopter was destined for St. Francis Hospital Heliport (4OK3), Tulsa, Oklahoma.

When EagleMed 35 landed at OK35 another helicopter had just landed and was occupying the single space helipad surface. EagleMed 35 landed and shut down on the asphalt surface of a road adjacent to the helipad. The first helicopter departed at 1728 and EagleMed 35 remained parked on the road for the next hour. 

According to the pilot, after the passenger and medical crew were loaded into the helicopter, he began a normal takeoff from a hover, and intended to follow the center of the road in a westbound direction. When the helicopter was 175 feet west from the takeoff location, the left side of the rotor blade disk impacted a 41 foot tall metal light pole which was located on the left side of the road. Control of the helicopter was lost and the helicopter came to rest on its right side about 230 feet from the takeoff position.