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Feds investigate chopper crash on hospital roof

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 10, 2014 at 5:01 pm •  Published: April 10, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal investigators spent Thursday scouring the rooftop of New Mexico's only top-level trauma center in search of clues as they tried to determine what caused a medical helicopter to crash while taking off from the roof.

Neither the pilot nor the two crew members on board were seriously hurt in Wednesday's crash, but the damaged helicopter remained on its side Thursday atop University of New Mexico Hospital. Part of its tail section was still hanging over the edge of the six-story building.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board inspected the wreckage and interviewed people who were on the ground at the time of the crash.

Some witnesses had reported a gust of wind before the chopper went down. But Brad Deutser, a spokesman for PHI Air Medical, the company that owns the aircraft, said it's too soon to say what might have contributed to the crash.

"At this point, there's lot of speculation, but that's the whole purpose for the investigation — to find out what really happened," Deutser said. "We wish we had the exact answer so we could address it, but the FAA and NTSB have taken the lead on the investigation so we can get the facts."

No patients were aboard the chopper when it went down. The crew had just dropped off a patient and was leaving when the crash occurred.

Images from TV news helicopters showed the roof around the wrecked chopper soaked as firefighters sprayed the tail section with water, but no flames were visible.

Within a couple of minutes of the wreck, the emergency sprinklers surrounding the helipad were activated, and hospital personnel pulled the pilot and two crew members from the craft, hospital spokesman Billy Sparks said.

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