N.Y. EMS helicopter agency assists Mercy Flight after fatal crash

Mercy Flight suspended operations following the incident at an annual factory training


Barbara O'Brien
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

Elba, N.Y. — A central New York helicopter emergency medical service provider has stepped in to help out Mercy Flight, which suspended operations following Tuesday's fatal helicopter crash.

"Our neighboring non-profit Helicopter EMS provider based in Canandaigua, N.Y., Mercy Flight Central, is on location at our Buffalo base to continue to deliver critical air ambulance service to the people of Western New York," Scott Wooton, Mercy Flight's executive vice president, said in an email.

He said requests for air ambulances should continue to be directed to the local communications center as usual.

The nonprofit Mercy Flight Central was founded in 1992, has 70 employees and has served more than 15,000 patients, according to its website. It provides critical care medical air service 24 hours a day and has three base locations in the Finger Lakes, Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, including the lower Adirondacks.

Mercy Flight pilot James E. Sauer and Stewart M. Dietrick of Prosper, Texas, an employee and pilot with Bell Helicopter, were killed Monday when their Mercy Flight helicopter on an annual factory training crashed in a field in Elba.

An investigation team with the National Transportation Safety Board is in Genesee County this week documenting the wreckage and interviewing witnesses to determine the cause of the crash. The wreckage is spread out over an area of about 2,000 feet, according to NTSB air safety investigator Aaron McCarter. It will be taken to a hangar in Delaware, where investigators will assemble it to try to determine how it came apart.

Mercy Flight announced Monday that it had temporarily suspended operations to allow time for employees "to process the event, and to ensure the complete safe mechanical operation of our other helicopters pending a preliminary accident team investigation."

"We are so grateful to have the full support of the Mercy Flight Central team during this difficult time, and we thank them and all who have expressed to us their well wishes and encouragement from the bottom of our hearts," Wooten said in an email Thursday.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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