3 Killed In Medical Helicopter: Cause of Illinois Crash Under Investigation

By Staff Reporter on December 11, 2012 9:56 AM EST

Medical helicopter
Illinois Rockford Memorial Hospital's REACT Medical helicopter crashes Monday evening, killing pilot Andy Olson, and flight nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis (Photo: Creative Commons)

Three heroes became victims when a medical helicopter carrying two nurses and a pilot lost control Monday night and crashed while enroute to the Mendota Community Hospital of Illinois. The three occupants in the helicopter were killed at the scene.

The victims were identified as pilot Andy Olson, and flight nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis.

Registered to the Rockford Memorial Hospital, the helicopter was scheduled to pick up another patient from Mendota Community Hospital on Monday night when it crashed in the field in the small town of Compton, just off the city of Rochelle. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the incident that disintegrated the aircraft occurred around 8:30 p.m.

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Families and supporters expressed an outpouring of grief at the loss of the three heroes. Rockford hospital spokesperson Wester Wuori said, " At Rockford Health System, our hearts are heavy. We grieve the loss of three heroes who dedicated their careers to serving others."

The specific cause of the crash is unknown as investigators set up a staging area close to the intersection of U.S. Route 30 and Illinois Route 251. The FAA confirms that the National Transportation Safety Board will be responsible for leading the investigation as to what caused the incident.

According to former Indianapolis flight respiratory therapist Stephen Richey, only the best trained in the field are qualified for medic helicopters. Pilots must be prepared for improvised landing sites on short notice while nurses on board must be capable of delivering advanced medical care to critically injured trauma patients while airborne.

Richey said, " You'll never find a more dedicated group of professionals in your entire life."

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