Texting while flying linked to fatal medevac crash

The NTSB will gather Tuesday to give a cause for the accident in August 2011 that killed four people


WASHINGTON — A medevac pilot was sending and receiving text messages before a crash that killed all four people on board, it emerged Monday.

Bloomberg.com reported that it's the first time such distractions have been implicated in a fatal commercial aviation accident.

The NTSB will gather Tuesday to give a cause for the accident in August 2011 that killed four people – patient Terry Tacoronte, Pilot James Freudenbert, Randy Bever, a flight nurse, and Chris Frakes, a paramedic – and to discuss the documented seven texts sent and received by the pilot prior to the crash, according to the article.

Freudenbert, 34, disclosed to a coworker before the crash that he hadn’t slept well the night before his flight and he failed to refuel the helicopter before flying to a hospital in Bethany, Missouri, according to NTSB records.

He recognized the mistake after landing at the hospital and spoke to a company dispatcher about where he could get more fuel and was headed to Midwest National Air Center Airport before the helicopter crashed, according to Bloomberg.

The Air Methods Corp. (AIRM) helicopter crashed in a field after running out of fuel. Electronic devices used by pilots during flight are prohibited by company rules, according to the reports. 

“This is a classic example of dividing attention in a way that compromises safety,” David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who has studied how personal electronic devices cause distraction, told Bloomberg.

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