(Update: NTSB spokesman says 2 of 4 crew members seriously injured in rollover crash in windy conditions)
CHRISTMAS VALLEY, Ore. (KTVZ) – An AirLink helicopter on a flight from Bend crashed Wednesday evening while landing at the Christmas Valley Airport to pick up a patient, injuring all four crew members aboard, two seriously, federal investigators and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
The crash occurred around 5:24 p.m., according to sheriff’s Deputy and Emergency Services Manager Daniel Tague.
National Transportation Safety Board Public Affairs Officer Peter Knudson told NewsChannel 21 the helicopter, with two pilots and two medical crew aboard, was landing in windy conditions to pick up a patient but that it “landed hard, and the helicopter rolled and was substantially damaged.”
Two of the four crew members were seriously injured, Knudson said, adding that a preliminary report on the accident is expected in 1-2 weeks.
The Federal Aviation Administration indicated in its initial report earlier Thursday that the 3-year-old helicopter “crashed under unknown circumstances (while) attempting to land and became inverted.”
Tague said La Pine and Crescent fire agencies dispatched ambulances to transport patients to Bend. At least one patient was taken by ambulance to a landing zone at Fort Rock, where a Life Flight helicopter reportedly landed to assist in transport.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, the deputy said.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said late Wednesday the helicopter was an Airbus AS350 and crashed near the airport, with four people aboard. The FAA and NTSB will investigate the crash, with the NTSB in charge.
AirLink’s parent firm, Global Medical Response, provided this statement Thursdsay to NewsChannel 21:
“Global Medical Response can confirm that one of our Med-Trans Corporation emergency air helicopters (Airlink Critical Care Transport) based in Klamath Falls, Oregon, was involved in an incident at the Christmas Valley airport while en route to pick up a patient.
“The four crew members on board have been transported to a local hospital for evaluation. There was no patient on board at the time. Please keep our team members and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
“Out of respect for them and their families, we ask for your patience as we work with authorities on determining the cause of this event. We will provide updates as soon as available.”
A company representative said AirLink has three other aircraft in the region: another helicopter and two fixed-wing aircraft. “Patients in the area are being supported using the resources of other air medical transport providers in the region,” he said.
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