Investigators probe MedEvac chopper crash

May 31, 2008 3:21:12 PM PDT
Lehigh Valley Hospital says it plans to resume airlifting patients in three counties after voluntarily suspending flights following the crash landing of a MedEvac helicopter in Pottsville on Friday night, officials said Saturday. The hospital expects to resume airlifting patients in Berks, Carbon and Monroe counties, according to a statement released by the hospital. It was unclear when MedEvac service would resume in Schuylkill County.

No one was seriously hurt in Friday night's crash in Pottsville, but the pilot, the flight nurse and flight paramedic were kept overnight at the Allentown-area hospital for observation. No one on the ground was hurt. The helicopter was destroyed.

The pilot and another crew member were released from the hospital Saturday, but one person was still being observed for injuries that were not life-threatening, said Amy Satkofsky, a hospital spokeswoman.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear Saturday. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.

Witnesses saw and heard the helicopter taking off, but said something quickly went wrong.

"He didn't go up high enough," witness Edward DeVaney said. "He tried to take off on an angle. I knew he was going down."

Karla Garland said she was in her kitchen when she heard the helicopter take off.

"You're used to hearing it coming and going. We heard it taking off, then all of a sudden 'Boom!"' Garland said.

The MedEvac helipad was established in Pottsville in May 2007 despite some community opposition. Some said they feared a helicopter would crash into a nearby school.