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3 dead in medical helicopter crash

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The crash occurred about 4 a.m.
  • No patients were on board the helicopter
  • The cause of the crash is being investigated

(CNN) -- A medical helicopter crashed early Tuesday near Clinton, Arkansas, killing all three crew members, according to authorities and the company.

The Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter, based in Vilonia, Arkansas, crashed about 4 a.m, Air Evac Lifeteam said in a statement.

"This is a tragic day for us here at Air Evac Lifeteam," said the company's president and CEO, Seth Myers. "These were members of our family and we are devastated at this loss. Our focus at this time is on providing support for the family and friends of these crew members."

The company identified the three as pilot Kenneth Robertson, flight nurse Kenneth Meyer Jr. and flight paramedic Gayla Gregory.

The helicopter was en route to a site in Crabtree, Arkansas, the statement said. No patients were on board, and the chopper was able to utilize a night vision system for travel in darkness.

Video from the crash scene showed the chopper reduced to rubble. Royce Johnson, fire chief of nearby Walnut Grove, told CNN affiliate KARK-TV the wreckage was on fire when authorities arrived minutes after the crash.

The cause of the accident was unknown. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified, and will launch a formal investigation, Air Evac Lifeteam said.

The company is the largest independently owned air medical provider in the United States, according to the statement, and operates 93 bases in 14 states. Its Vilonia base has been operating since February 2003.