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Friday, December 19, 2014

Updated: Helicopter crashes on UNMH roof

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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.

news@dailylobo.com

Updated 9:51 p.m.

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By @AaronCSweet / New Mexico Daily Lobo
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By @AaronCSweet / New Mexico Daily Lobo

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 takeoff 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 down 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.

Updated 7:49 p.m.

The UNM Health Sciences Center posted the following statement on its Facebook page about the helicopter crash:

UPDATE: There has been a PHI medical helicopter accident on top of UNM Hospital. There were three people on board. There are possible injuries to the pilot; two passengers are under observation. There are no injuries to UNMH patients or employees. As a precaution, the fifth and sixth floors of the BBR Pavilion are being evacuated internally directly beneath the accident site. UNMH is discouraging after hour visitors. Hospital is closed to new patients except for serious traumas.”

A news conference will take place at 8 p.m.

Original story

The pilot of a helicopter that crashed on top of UNM Hospital Wednesday afternoon is being inspected for possible injuries.

UNMH Executive Director of Communication Billy Sparks said emergency care specialists are inspecting “possible injuries” to the pilot of the helicopter, which crashed at about 6 p.m. He said two other passengers of the helicopter are under observation.

Sparks said no UNMH employees are hurt.

UNMH has not found any damage on its facility so far, Sparks said. He said the hospital is currently evaluating damage.

Sparks said UNMH has evacuated a portion of UNMH as a precaution. He said the Albuquerque Police Department and the Albuquerque Fire Department is in the scene to respond to the incident.

UNM Senior Tyler Jackson said he saw the helicopter take off and begin to make strange noises.

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

Jackson said the helicopter started to teeter back and forth while in the air before falling over sideways back onto the roof. He said he could see debris and flames on the roof, but the flames were soon extinguished.

Sparks could not confirm what exactly led to the incident.

The tail of the helicopter is visible from the front of UNMH. A portion of Lomas Boulevard from Yale to Girard is blockaded by police.