Video courtesy of KATV
Three crewmembers were killed after an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter crashed around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday near Scotland in Van Buren County.The crew, based out of Vilonia, was en route to pick up a traffic accident victim, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford told The Associated Press.
Pilot Kenneth Robertson, flight nurse Kenneth Meyer Jr., and flight paramedic Gayla Gregory were killed in the accident. No patients were on board the helicopter.
The cause of the accident is not known at this time. Officials with the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were traveling to the crash site and will begin a formal investigation.
Lunsford told the AP there apparently was no distress call.
“They were flying under (visual flight rules),” Lunsford said. “It doesn’t appear they were talking to any air traffic controllers at the time.”
According to Heavrin, the aircraft was Night Vision Goggle operational.
“Air Evac Lifeteam has an active safety program, including the use of flight simulators for scenario-based training of pilots, pilot risk matrix system to assess risk factors of every flight, terrain alert warning systems, XM satellite weather system on board the aircraft, and use of the HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services) Weather Tool,” Heavrin said in a press release.
“This is a tragic day for us here at Air Evac Lifeteam,” Air Evac Lifeteam President and CEO Seth Myers said. “These were members of our family and we are devastated at this loss. Our focus at this time is on providing support for the family and friends of these crewmembers.”
The Vilonia Air Evac base has been in operation since February 2003.
“Our hearts go out to the families and coworkers of these brave individuals who lost their lives providing life-saving care to others,” Lori Ross, spokesperson for Conway Regional Medical Center, said.
Air Evac has experienced several fatal crashes in recent years.
In 2008, an Air Evac helicopter crashed in an Indiana cornfield killing three people. In 2007, another three-member crew was killed when an Air Evac helicopter crashed in Colbert County, Ala.
In 2006, an Air Evac helicopter crashed in Gentry in northwest Arkansas, killing the three-member crew.
Last month, an Air Evac helicopter made a forced landing near Tulsa, Okla., after the aircraft’s hydraulics failed. No one was hurt.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.