Arizona helicopter collision kills six

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Two medical helicopters en route to Flagstaff Medical Center reportedly crashed into each other near Flagstaff Arizona, United States, leaving six of the seven passengers dead, and one, a nurse, seriously injured.

A Bell 407 helicopter on land

At least one passenger of three on a Bell 407 helicopter operated by Air Methods Corp. was reported to be a patient. The other helicopter, also a Bell 407, operated by Classic Helicopters, Ltd., carried four passengers who are all dead except for one with serious injures. Spokesperson Matt Stein of Classic Helicopters said that the patient on board the helicopter they operated was being lifted from a medical emergency on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The helicopters collided at about 3:45 pm PDT (22:45 UTC), according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and crashed about half a mile (800 metres) from the hospital. The helicopters crashed into a forested hillside, igniting a fire that burned about ten to fifteen acres (four to six hectares) of land, but was contained quickly by rescue workers.

Two medical rescue workers were released from a hospital after an explosion of one of the helicopters on the ground. Reuters was told by Sergeant Tom Boughner that "They were treated for minor burns injuries and were released from the hospital in good condition".

Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is a city near the centre of Arizona in the United States. The surrounding areas north-east, west, and south-west are lined with hillsides. The city is just south-east of the popular tourist attraction, the Grand Canyon.

Classic Helicopters states that their pilot had over 10,000 hours of experience and this is the first fatal incident they've had. The FAA is performing an investigation of the incident.