Talihina, Oklahoma - June 11, 2013
Aviation safety advocates are calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take action against EagleMed, an air medical transport service company that has seen three of its medical helicopters crash in the last three years. These three crashes, dating back to 2010, left five people dead and three others with serious life-altering injuries. "Any aviation operation with three crashes in as many years, resulting in deaths and serious injuries, raises red flags that something is seriously wrong with their operation," says Ron Goldman, senior trial attorney at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. "Tuesday's crash tragically underscores the danger posed to innocent lives should air medical companies fail to make safety their highest priority, and I would urge the FAA to act swiftly."
In 2010, an EagleMed chopper went down just outside of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, killing the pilot and a flight nurse, and seriously injuring the flight paramedic. In February of this year, an EagleMed helicopter crashed in the parking lot of St. Ann's Retirement Home in Oklahoma City. Pilot Mark Montgomery and flight nurse Chris Denning were both killed in the crash. Flight paramedic Bill Wynne sustained critical injuries. An eyewitness to the Oklahoma City crash reported seeing a flash in the sky, and then noticed the helicopter descending rapidly. The chopper immediately erupted in flames when it hit the ground.
The aviation attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman have been retained by the widow of Mark Montgomery to represent her family in their case against EagleMed. Baum Hedlund has been handling aviation accident cases for over 20 years, representing almost 600 victims in over 200 aviation accidents. Among the firm's most significant helicopter case was a helicopter/medical flight trial in June of 2006 in Southern California. Baum Hedlund represented the families of three Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics who were killed in a medical rescue helicopter crash; this was a products liability trial against Bell Helicopter for a tail rotor failure. In addition to Bell, the helicopter lawyers at Baum Hedlund have successfully fought on behalf of clients against helicopter companies like Robinson, Sikorsky, Aerospatiale (Eurocopter) and others.
On Tuesday evening, another EagleMed helicopter went down at the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center hospital, killing a patient and seriously injuring a flight crewmember. The helicopter was taking off from the hospital in Talihina to transfer 49-year-old patient Michael David Wilson to a hospital in Tulsa. According to Oklahoma's News on 6, the chopper crashed moments after taking off at around 6:30 p.m., killing Wilson, of Bethel, and seriously injuring a flight nurse. Two other crewmembers aboard the chopper suffered minor injuries in the crash. At this time, authorities are uncertain what caused the helicopter to go down.
The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) has put EagleMed's accreditation on hold, pending an investigation into Tuesday's crash. As of now, the FAA has not taken any action against EagleMed.