Skip to main content

3 dead in Florida medical helicopter crash

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 27, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A surgeon and medical technician were killed in the crash, the Mayo Clinic says
  • NEW: The helicopter's pilot also died, the clinic says
  • The clinic employees were headed to the University of Florida for transplant organs

(CNN) -- Three people -- a surgeon, a medical technician and a pilot -- were killed Monday when a medical helicopter crashed in Florida, the Mayo Clinic said.

The helicopter crashed at about 5:23 a.m. ET about 12 miles northeast of Palatka, Florida, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

The clinic said the helicopter was carrying two employees to the University of Florida in Gainesville to harvest organs when the crash occurred. It identified those employees Monday as cardiac surgeon Dr. Luis Bonilla and procurement technician David Hines.

"A helicopter pilot who was not employed by Mayo also died in the accident," the clinic said in a statement. The helicopter was owned and operated by an outside company, and the clinic did not release the name of the pilot. No patients were on board, the clinic said.

"Mayo is working internally to support the family and employees of those lost in this unfortunate tragedy," the clinic said.

Palatka is about 45 miles east of Gainesville.

The helicopter was owned by SK Jets, according to the FAA. The company has not commented on the crash.

"As we mourn this tragic event, we will remember the selfless and intense dedication they brought to making a difference in the lives of our patients," said John Noseworthy, Mayo Clinic's president and CEO, in the statement. "We recognize the commitment our transplant teams make every day in helping patients at Mayo Clinic and beyond. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."

CNN's Antoinette Campbell, Sara Pratley and Devon Sayers contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT