A terrible crash involving a medical transport helicopter killed all three crew members on board as it left the hospital after dropping off a patient. The daring crew ran into bad weather just outside of Charleston, SC on their way to Conroy, a town 90 miles to the northeast. They had made an attempt at an emergency landing at a nearby airport unsuccessfully.
Investigators for the tragic copter crash identified the victims as paramedic Randolph Claxton Dove, 39, of Bladenboro, N.C.; the pilot, Patrick Walters, 45, of Murrells Inlet, S.C.; and a flight nurse, Diana Conner, 42, of Florence, S.C.
As mentioned, the OmniFlight medical transporter helicopter had recently dropped off a patient at a hospital in Charleston. According to Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, the crew was in the process of flying to Conway when it crashed about 11:30 p.m. last Friday in Georgetown County. At that particular time the National Weather Service had forecasted that a thunderstorm was rolling into the Georgetown County area. The flight crew had reported to its company, Texas-based OmniFlight that they were trying to land.
There appears to be a dichotomy of reports on past performance issues of the craft. As OmniFlight declares that the helicopter had never had mechanical problems, the National Transportation Safety Board shows a different story. NTSB documents show the aircraft was damaged during a May 2008 incident.
In their records, it shows that last year a pilot prepared for takeoff from Caffery Heliport in Hiram, Ga. when the helicopter began to shake violently while he advanced the throttle. This caused the pilot to shut down the copter and reported to investigators that it showed extensive damage on its main rotor.
An audit of the helicopter’s maintenance records clearly showed that the rotor should have been replaced about 600 flight hours prior to that particular incident. In yet another incident involving OmniFlight, NTSB records report that a similar type helicopter had an accident where it struck some steel poles near the helipad site at Loris Community Hospital. OmniFlight is a company that operates 100 aircraft from 72 bases in 18 states with responsibility to the safety and welfare of some 1,000 employees.
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