According to federal safety investigators, a medical helicopter that crashed in South Carolina, resulting in all three crew members on board suffering fatal personal injuries, had encountered bad weather and was attempting to land at a nearby airport.
The victims of the crash were identified as 39-year-old Bladenboro, North Carolina resident Randolph Claxton Dove, a paramedic, 45-year-old Murrells Inlet, S.C. resident Patrick Walters, the pilot, and 42-year-old Florence, S.C. resident Diana Conner, a flight nurse.
The helicopter had just left a hospital in Charleston, where it had dropped off a patient, and was en route to Conway, approximately 90 miles to the northeast, when it crashed at approximately 11:30 p.m. on September 25 in Georgetown County, according to National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson.
The National Weather Service said that a thunderstorm had passed through that area shortly before the crash.
According to NTSB member Robert Sumwalt, the crew had reported to its company, Texas-based OmniFlight, that they were attempting to land.
In 2009, the same helicopter was damaged after scheduled maintenance was delayed, according to NTSB records. Sumwalt said the maintenance history would be part of the investigation.
In early September, NTSB officials recommended the government impost tighter controls on emergency helicopter operators, citing the record number of fatalities in 2008. Nine accidents occurred between December 2007 and October 2008, resulting in 35 deaths.
Since then, there have been three accidents, but the South Carolina crash was the first in which fatalities were reported.