LASSEN COUNTY, Calif. – A medical helicopter stationed in Susanville crashed 15 miles north of Reno at approximately 2:01 am Saturday morning. A "mayday" report was heard just prior to loss of contact. A witness purportedily saw the copter go into a sudden decline. The medi-vac team had just dropped off a patient at Renown Hospital in Reno. All three members of the medical crew were killed. They were the pilot from Hawaii, and the flight nurse and paramedic, both from Susanville.
According to the Lassen County Times, the crash involved an Aerospatiale AS350 that was completely destroyed by the crash and fire that followed. The helicopter was apparently built in 1982. The helicopter was operated by Mountain LifeFlight. The National Transportation Safety Board is on-site investigating the incident.
The Redding Record Searchlight reports that Mountain Lifeflight had another helicopter crash in March of 2002. At that time a Eurocopter As-350B crashed into Honey Lake about 11 miles south of Susanville. The pilot was killed but two medical personnel survived. The NTSB determined that the crash was caused by pilot error. The pilot purportedily became disoriented by the placid sheen off Honey Lake as they flew over it.
Because of the vast distance between populated areas, and the mountaineous terrain of Northern California, medical helicopters play a vital role in the delivery of emergency medical care in our region. When medical responders are tragically killed in the line of duty delivering these services to our citizens, we must each take pause and thank them for the dedicated service they perform everyday, usually without thanks. Our sincerest condolences go to the families, friends and co-workers of these dedicated and heroic medical responders.