Aeromed Helo Hits Terrain in Night MVFR

 - May 14, 2008, 5:35 AM

A Eurocopter EC 135 T2+ (N135UW) operated by Air Methods for the University of Wisconsin crashed Saturday night shortly after taking off VFR from La Crosse (Wis.) Municipal Airport (LSE). The pilot and two-man medical crew, the only occupants, were killed. An NTSB spokesman said the helicopter hit a ridgeline four miles southeast of LSE, with debris scattered over a tenth of a mile and up to 600 feet below the main wreckage. LSE is bound by rapidly rising terrain and an area of heavily wooded and rugged bluffs to the east. Although the helicopter was equipped with satellite tracking, the main wreckage was not located for nine hours due to terrain and quickly deteriorating weather conditions. The helicopter was equipped with a single-pilot IFR cockpit and the 4,300-hour pilot was helicopter instrument rated. The crash is the first in the 23-year history of the UW-MedFlight program.