Medical helicopter employees killed in crash named - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Medical helicopter employees killed in crash named

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Four people were killed when a medical helicopter crashed in Clay County on Friday night.

Three crew members and a patient died in the crash, said Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. There were no survivors on the LifeNet helicopter that was attempting to stop for fuel.

LifeNet said their employees killed were Randy Bever, 47, a flight nurse from Savannah, MO, Chris Frakes, 36, a flight paramedic from Savannah, MO and James Freudenberg, 34, a pilot from Rapid City, SD. The patient they were transporting was Terry Tacoronte, 58.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board on Saturday were at the scene investigating.  Jim Silliman with NTSB said officials from Air Methods, the company that owns the helicopter as well as people from the helicopter's engine manufacturer and aircraft body manufacturer are assisting in the investigation.   

The crash occurred near the small town of Mosby just before 7 p.m. Friday. The aircraft went down about a mile northeast of Midwest National Airport in Mosby. The helicopter smashed into a field just west of Highway 69 and Cameron Road.

Donald Mayse lives near where the crash happened.  He said he was playing a game on his Playstation that had helicopter in it when he heard a loud noise, a noise he initially thought came from the TV.  When he realized what had happened, he called 911 and rushed to the crash site to see if he could help. 

"It's (the helicopter) upside down, the skids facing up. One pilot was towards the back. The other one was still in his seat. He got ejected 30 feet up the front and debris in the front and that's where I found him at," said Mayse. 

Clay County Eastern District Commissioner Katee Porter described the crash site as a grazing field with weeds and said the wreckage was hard to see Friday night.

"The only thing we know is they had radioed in to our airport prior to the crash. It was not a distress call. It was a routine radio call that pilots make when you're approaching a non-controlled airport such as Midwest National," she explained.

Mosby is northeast of Kansas City. The helicopter was en route to Mosby to refuel when the crash occurred.

Steve Porter said he lives near the crash scene.

"I heard it fly overhead and it did not sound good," Porter said. "I think he was trying to make it to Clay County Regional Airport."

He likened the sound to a car misfiring.

The helicopter took off from a hospital in St. Joseph, MO, flew to Bethany's Harrison County Community Hospital then headed for Liberty Hospital and had planned to make a stop for fuel in Mosby. 

Skies were clear at the time of the crash. Preliminary indications are the pilot reported the helicopter was low on fuel and was attempting to land in Mosby before contact was lost with LifeNet dispatchers.

Silliman said the probable cause on this accident report can take up to a year before anything is known. 

"What we're busy with today is doing a wreckage diagram and reconstruction of the impact.  We've been busy doing that most of the day.  We've had the engine removed from the airframe and that was brought over to the Clay County Airport where they will be preparing it for shipment to the engine manufacture where later there will be an engine teardown," he said.

Silliman also said they will be moving the aircraft to a garage in Ottawa where they will continue their investigation.

According to FAA records, the helicopter received its certification in 2005 and it was good until 2013. The registered owner is Key Equipment Finance Inc. out of Boulder, CO.

The aircraft was operated by LifeNet, a subsidiary of Air Methods Inc. of Englewood, CO. Air Methods says it is the nation's largest provider of air medical transport services and systems.

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