'Legends': Pilot, crew of crashed medevac helicopter lauded for actions

The pilot, who was injured more severely than the onboard nurse and paramedic, is being compared to Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger


By Leila Merrill

DREXEL HILL, Pa. — In a show of support, members of the first responder community are praising the crew of the medical helicopter that crash-landed Tuesday without fatalities.

A LifeNet medevac helicopter was transporting an infant patient to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia when it went down next to a church.

This cellphone video frame grab shows the aftermath of a medical helicopter crash in the Drexel Hill neighborhood of Upper Darby, Pa., in suburban Philadelphia on Tuesday.
This cellphone video frame grab shows the aftermath of a medical helicopter crash in the Drexel Hill neighborhood of Upper Darby, Pa., in suburban Philadelphia on Tuesday. (Photo/Jerrell Saunders/Associated Press)

The Eurocopter EC135 owned by Air Methods took off from Hagerstown, Md., at 10:29 a.m. Eastern time, stopped at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital in Chambersburg, and departed for Philadelphia at 12:05 p.m., the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

About 45 minutes later, the helicopter started having trouble, according to Upper Darby Township Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt.

The helicopter was gliding lower before it fell and "slammed violently" into the street at Bloomfield Avenue and Burmont Road. It skidded into the side of Drexel Hill United Methodist Church, said Tim Boyce, director of Delaware County's Department of Emergency Services. 

The pilot, nurse, and a medic were able to crawl out of the fallen aircraft.

The pilot was more injured than the other two crew members and was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and has been reported to be in stable condition.

The child was taken by ground ambulance to CHOP.

A local EMT who was off-duty at the time helped the crew at the scene, according to the Good Fellowship Ambulance & EMS Training Institute. Jewel Singles can be seen in a Facebook photo. 

The crew is being lauded for their work.

“Their quick thinking, coordination, and commitment to service saved at least one life. This deserves to be celebrated!” wrote Kevin Collopy on Twitter.

“This crew should be being celebrated tonight by every news outlet, EMS provider, and every other human being on the internet. Legends. Absolute freaking legends,” tweeted Brittany Prater, a paramedic and EMS instructor.

“The pilot did a phenomenal job, “ LifeFlight dispatcher Ken Krebs posted on Facebook.

The pilot is being compared to Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who steered a passenger airplane onto the Hudson River in 2009 without fatalities.

“No words for the skills of this #EMS pilot a rotor version of Capt Sully Kudos to pilot and crew and prayers to all for speedy recover and their patient,” tweeted Don DeReamus, AAP board-legislative chair and paramedic.

"I will tell you that [the pilot] did a great job of landing that helicopter without taking any telephone poles down, damaging any structures, and again no loss of life," said Derrick Sawyer, chief of Upper Darby Township Fire Department.

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