Oklahoma crash pilot mimicked coyote hunt

www.ntsb.gov Published: May 9, 2013
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The pilot of a medical helicopter that crashed three years ago near Kingfisher was pretending to hunt coyotes when his aircraft struck a tree and plummeted to the ground, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

The helicopter, operated by Wichita-Kan.-based EagleMed LLC, was traveling from Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City to a hospital about 90 miles away in Okeene when it crashed into a field on July 22, 2010. The crash killed pilot Al Harrison and nurse Ryan Duke and seriously injured paramedic Michael Eccard. No patients were on board.

The report released Wednesday found that during the flight, the paramedic noticed the helicopter's left door had come unlatched and was slightly ajar. After securing it, the paramedic sat back down when a conversation began about another pilot flying on a coyote hunt.

The report says the helicopter's pilot made a statement similar to “like this. (with some laughter)” and tilted the aircraft's nose down. He pulled back up and the helicopter struck a tree and crashed to the ground. The paramedic was thrown from the wreckage and crawled away, the report says.

The report also noted that Harrison was being treated for several medical conditions and had been prescribed multiple medications since at least 2007, when he told his personal physician he had bronchitis, hypertension and sleep apnea.

The NTSB report says the pilot was never treated for his sleep apnea and had not reported any of his medical conditions and prescription medications to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The report does not pinpoint the specific cause of the crash. A separate probable cause report will be released later by the NTSB.

Read the NTSB report

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