February 22, 2013
Two men killed in a medical helicopter crash Friday are being remembered as skilled professionals who accepted risky positions to save lives.
The helicopter crashed Friday morning in northwest Oklahoma City, killing the pilot and flight nurse and critically injuring a third man. No patients were aboard.
The Eurocopter AS 350 helicopter was owned and operated by EagleMed, a Wichita-based air medical transport service.
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Pilot Mark Montgomery and flight nurse Chris Denning died in the crash, and paramedic Billy Wynne was injured, EagleMed spokesman Robbie Copeland said.
Wynne was taken to OU Medical Center in critical condition. Late Friday afternoon, Wynne was en route to the burn unit at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, a nurse there said.
The helicopter had taken off from Integris Baptist Medical Center and was headed to Watonga to pick up a patient when it crashed about 5:40 a.m., Integris spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said.
The patient in Watonga was transferred from Mercy Hospital Watonga to Oklahoma Heart Hospital and was treated there, a Mercy spokeswoman said.
The helicopter crashed on St. Ann Drive in Oklahoma City, narrowly missing nearby St. Ann Retirement Center and St. Ann Nursing Home, which are situated on either side of the road.
It is unclear how much control Montgomery had over the aircraft at the time of the crash.
No one at the retirement village was seriously hurt, said Tina Dzurisin, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.
Seven staff members rushed to the crash scene to help. Three helped pull one of the crew members from the wreckage just before a second explosion, Dzurisin said.
Someone from the nursing home called 911 to report the first explosion, initially thinking a car was on fire.
While on the phone with a dispatcher, the caller could be heard speaking with another person, then shouting “Oh, my gosh! Somebody's in there?”
The caller then told the dispatcher the vehicle on fire was a helicopter.
A retirement village resident said he did not hear the crash and explosions but woke up when his son called. Benny Goe, 87, said he was startled that the crash was so close.
“It was between our independent living center and the nursing home on St. Ann Drive,” Goe said.
“I saw the tail of the helicopter, and the grass was burned off.”
More than 9,000 Integris employees were notified about the helicopter crash Friday morning in an email from Bruce Lawrence, Integris Health president and CEO.
In the email, Lawrence noted that Denning had worked for Integris for nearly a decade before going to work for EagleMed, first in radiology and then in the hospital's intensive care unit.