Official: 2 dead, 1 hurt in AZ helicopter crash

Posted at 8:31 PM, Dec 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 12:39:43-05

Two people were killed when a Native Air medical transport helicopter crashed late Tuesday within the Superstition Mountains.

A third crew member aboard survived the crash and is listed in "very serious critical condition," according to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu who briefed reporters Wednesday morning.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that two of our crew members were taken from us, and our hearts go out to their family and loved ones," the company said in a statement released Wednesday morning.

This crash happened nearly a week after a medical helicopter crashed in Kern County, killing four people. 


PCSO identified the victims as a 51-year-old pilot from Gilbert and a 38-year-old nurse from Mesa. The survivor is a 38-year-old paramedic from Gilbert.

He said the Airbus AS 350 B3 aircraft was on its way to Globe, Ariz. from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport when it crashed. He said the aircraft is located in a remote area and rugged terrain on the mountain that is difficult to access.

Investigators, including Identification Technicians and the National Transportation Safety Board, are on scene.

A general timeline of the incident was also released, although the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

  • 6 p.m.: The Native Air aircraft is reported missing by the company.
  • 7:30 p.m.: Air Methods contacted PCSO wondering if its office had received any reports of a downed aircraft. PCSO had not received any reports at that time.
  • 8:18 p.m.: The Department of Public Safety contacted PCSO saying it had been contacted by Air Methods related to a missing aircraft.
  • 8:27 p.m.: Two Native Air aircrafts sent out to look for the helicopter located the crash site, but were unable to land due to the rough terrain.
  • 9 p.m.: A DPS aircraft located the crash site and found the lone survivor signaling to them with a "flashlight-type device," said Sheriff Paul Babeu. Due to the terrain, the aircraft was unable to land.
  • 10:15 p.m.: The survivor was picked up and removed from the area by a military aircraft and taken to the hospital.

The names of the victims were not released. Official said no patients were onboard.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been contacted, according to Babeu, but was not yet on scene.

"This is a tragedy," he said.