McALESTER — Following a deadly crash earlier this month, a Kansas air medical transport company is resuming helicopter flights serving McAlester Regional Health Center.
Officials with Wichita-based EagleMed LLC announced Thursday the company based a Eurocopter AS350 at the hospital this week. The new aircraft replaces another Eurocopter AS350 that was based in McAlester and crashed earlier this month.
The company came under scrutiny after the previous helicopter crashed June 11 near the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center in Talihina. A patient died in the crash, and three crew members were injured.
Jim Gregory, a consultant for EagleMed, said the company continued to use a Beechcraft King Air airplane to fly medical flights from the McAlester hospital after the helicopter crashed. EagleMed helicopters at other hospitals nearby also continued to serve the area, Gregory said.
In a statement, EagleMed President Larry Bugg said the company was “devastated” by the crash.
“At that same time, we know the community and southeastern Oklahoma count on our critical care air medical flights to save lives, so we are thankful to again have helicopter service based at McAlester hospital,” Bugg said in a statement.
According to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report, the helicopter crashed just after takeoff about 6:30 p.m. June 11, after the aircraft's rotor blade disk struck a metal light pole, causing the pilot to lose control.
Following the crash, the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems placed EagleMed's accreditation on hold while an investigation is conducted.
The accident was the third deadly crash the company had seen since 2010.
In February, another EagleMed helicopter crashed on St. Ann Drive in Oklahoma City, narrowly missing nearby St. Ann Retirement Center and St. Ann Nursing Home. The pilot and a flight nurse died in that crash.
Another EagleMed helicopter crashed in 2010 in a pasture near Kingfisher. That crash killed two crew members and severely injured a third.