Factual report focuses on weather conditions
The National Transportation Safety Board released a full factual report last week about the Jan. 2, 2013 helicopter crash in which three medical workers lost their lives. However, the agency has not yet made a statement concerning the cause of the crash.
Pilot Gene Grell, nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau, and paramedic Russ Piehl were aboard the Mercy Air Med helicopter when it crashed into a farm field north of Ventura at 9:57 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2013. The helicopter was in route from Mercy Medical Center North Iowa to the Palo Alto Hospital in Emmetsburg to pick up a patient.
The NTSB report focuses largely on weather conditions at the time of the crash. The report notes pilots in other aircraft that evening reported freezing precipitation, and several witnesses reported ice-covered roads.
An Airman Meteorological Information (AIRMET) advisory for icing was in effect for the route of flight, as well.
According to the report, “One first responder reported observing a police car slide through a roadway intersection due to the slick conditions while responding to the accident site.”
Ventura firefighters, as well as those from Clear Lake, responded to the scene along with law enforcement.
Another witness, located about one mile south of the accident, reported observing the helicopter as it approached from the east. “He noted that it appeared to slow and then turn to the north. When he looked again, the helicopter appeared to descend straight down. He described the current weather conditions as misty,” according to the report.
Investigators also looked into the Bell helicopter’s worthiness for flight in such conditions.
“The helicopter was not certificated for intentional flight into known icing conditions,” the report states. “The helicopter was equipped with heated pitot and static ports; however, the rotor blades were not equipped with ice protection.” - Read More Via e-Edition