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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Helicopter crashes on roof of UNMH

By Aaron Sweet / New Mexico Daily Lobo

The tail of an emergency helicopter can be seen protruding from the roof of the University of New Mexico Hospital after crashing during
takeo Wednesday evening. The pilot of the helicopter was injured, but is in stable condition.


After sustaining injuries following a helicopter crash on the roof of UNM Hospital Wednesday evening, the aircraft’s pilot is now in stable condition.

UNM Executive Director of Communications Billy Sparks said at a press conference that evening that the helicopter had dropped off a patient and was departing at approximately 5:45 p.m. when it crashed.

“The pilot did receive injuries, (but) his condition is currently good and stable,” he said. “The other two individuals are under observation, but we don’t detect any life-threatening injuries at this time.

About two minutes after the incident, the sprinkler system went off, and emergency responders helped the pilot and the other two passengers, Sparks said. He said the helicopter started spinning during takeoff and was unable to get enough air to leave the roof.

Sparks said he currently doesn’t know what caused the crash.

UNM senior Tyler Jackson said he saw the helicopter take off and heard an unusual noise.

“It wasn’t like any sound I had heard from a helicopter before,” he said.

Jackson said after the helicopter crashed he saw debris and flames, but the sprinkler system soon came on.

Lomas Boulevard was closed by first responders from Yale Boulevard to Girard Boulevard while they worked on the crash.

Sparks said no UNMH employees or patients were hurt, and there was no interference with care. He said the areas immediately under the site of the crash were evacuated.

“As a precautionary measure due to potential structural damage, we did evacuate portions of the fifth and sixth floors internally in the hospital, so we did not remove any patients from the hospital,” he said.

The hospital was closed except for trauma-category patients, Sparks said. He said other hospitals were notified and prepared to act accordingly. He said if another patient needed to be dropped off via helicopter, there would be a temporary landing space on Johnson Field or at the Albuquerque Sunport.

Sparks said the helicopter was from PHI Air Medical, a private helicopter ambulance provider. He said the Federal Aviation Administration will arrive Thursday morning to further evaluate the incident.