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N.M. medical helicopter crash victims identified

Pilot David Cavigneaux, flight nurse and paramedic Rebecca Serkey, and base manager James Butler were killed when their medical helicopter crashed into a mountainside

By Andy Stiny
Albuquerque Journal

NEWKIRK, N.M. — The three crew members of the Tristate Careflight helicopter that crashed and burned early yesterday while on the way to Tucumcari have been identified by New Mexico State Police as pilot David Cavigneaux, 46, of Rio Rancho; flight nurse and paramedic Rebecca Serkey, 29 of Rio Rancho and base manager James Butler, 46, of Albuquerque.

The helicopter crashed into a mountainside on a ranch about 30 miles from Tucumcari while en route to pick up a patient. There will be a candlelight vigil for the three tonight at 8 p.m. at Christus St. Vincents Regional Medical Center, according to the website of Pecos Canyon Fire and Rescue.

“They were all great people,” said John Cole, director of business development for Careflight. He said the families have asked that the company not comment further,

Eric Roybal, Pecos Fire and Rescue chief, posted this statement on the agency’s website:

“The early morning crash of Careflight 5 out of Santa Fe hits pretty close to home for us. We have worked with this very helicopter and crew on numerous occasions here in the Pecos Canyon. The crew was always helpful, friendly, knowledgeable and professional, the last time being about 2 weeks ago when they came out to assist us with a patient that was injured by a fall from a horse. Here’s to those who lost their lives in this accident: Jamie Butler, Rebecca Serkey and David Cavigneaux. We salute you and all those who risk their lives daily to make a difference in other people’s lives. You touched many lives and will be missed greatly! ~Eric Roybal.”

Serkey, 29, was originally from New Jersey and she was mourned by those in the paramedic community there, according to the cliffviewpilot.com website.”She was a tremendous asset to every department that she ever worked for and has touched many lives,” wrote the Ridgefield (NJ) Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said the website. “She will be truly missed.”

Butler is survived by his wife, who is a paramedic in Pecos. Serkey is survived by her boyfriend in Rio Rancho and Cavigneaux, who just became a U.S. citizen in May, is survived by his wife and son. Cavigneaux was originally from France where he raced cars.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Those investigations typically can take a year before determining a possible crash cause.


©2014 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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