4 killed after medical helicopter crashes on its way to SJCH near McFarland in dense fog

NEAR MCFARLAND, Calif. -- Kern County Fire crews confirmed that 4 people were killed Thursday evening after the Skylife medical helicopter crashed.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the company that was operating the helicopter reported the aircraft was overdue, according to KFSN-TV in Fresno.

On Friday, American Ambulance officials held a press conference and identified the 3 out of the 4 people killed in the crash.

The victims were identified as 49-year-old Thomas Hampl, 42-year-old Marco Lopez and 37-year-old Kyle Juarez.

Officials did not released the name of the patient in the crash. 

The helicopter was flying from Porterville Municipal Airport to Meadows Field Airport when the aircraft went missing at around 6:50 p.m.

Dan Lynch, EMS Director, said that at approximately 7:05 pm, the Fresno County EMS dispatch Center was unable to make radio contact with Skylife 4, while conducting the routine safety check, which is a 10 minute safety check when aircraft are in flight.

When the dispatch center was unable to make contact with Skylife 4, they immediately contacted the airport towers in Fresno and Bakersfield.

Kern County Sheriff's Office says the National Transportation Safety Board will not be leaving Sacramento until 7 a.m. to head to the site of the helicopter crash. The Federal Aviation Administration will not leave Fresno until 7 a.m. The Kern County Sheriff's Office coroner will not be headed to the scene until their shift starts at 7 a.m.

Kern County Fire crews found a debris field near Sherwood Avenue and Highway 65 at around 9 p.m.


23ABC News has confirmed that the helicopter was scheduled to go to San Joaquin Community Hospital, according to hospital spokesperson Jimmy Phillips. 

Firefighters from Delano had begun searching in that area after reports that the helicopter lost contact with officials, according to Kern County Fire Engineer Michael Nicholas.

23ABC crews reported that the area was filled with thick fog late Thursday night.

The helicopter had one pilot, a flight nurse, flight paramedic and the patient onboard when it crashed.

Kern County fire officials confirmed around 10:20 p.m. that all occupants onboard the helicopter were killed when it crashed.

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