Med Flight Crashes Near La Crosse Airport
A UW Hospital and Clinics Med Flight helicopter with a crew of three left Madison at approximately 8:30pm last night to transfer a patient to Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse. After transferring the patient, the Med Flight helicopter departed the La Crosse airport at approximately 10:30pm. to return to Madison. No further communication was received from the crew.
Darren Bean, MD
Mark Coyne, RN
Steve Lipperer, pilot
The crew consisted of Darren Bean, MD, Mark Coyne, RN and pilot Steve Lipperer. An extensive ground search was conducted by La Crosse-area authorities and at approximately 8:40am today, a crash site was identified about four miles from the airport.
The aircraft was new, leased in the last year from Air Methods and was an American Eurocopter EC 135. Hospital officials have no details on what might have happened and as we learn more, we will share this with the media. Preliminary reports indicate that the aircraft may have flown into a hill and/or struck some trees.
Following standard protocol, the second Med Flight helicopter has been temporarily taken out of service.
"Our hearts and minds and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of those lost in this tragic accident," said UW Hospital Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Peg Van Bree at a Sunday morning press conference at the American Family Children's Hospital.
"Darren, Mark and Steve represented the very best in compassionate patient care and they will be deeply missed by all members of the UW Health family who knew and respected this courageous and committed Med Flight crew," Van Bree continued.
President and Chief Executive Officer Donna Katen-Bahensky noted that UW Hospital will spend the week supporting staff members grieving the loss of the Med Flight crew members.
"We're going to take good care of each other," Katen-Bahensky said, adding that social workers and managers will work to do "whatever we can to try to help them get through this."
"I think it goes without saying that UW Health feels very much like a family," Katen-Bahensky said. "Its staff are very connected to each other. This is a tremendous loss to our staff, but also to the family and friends of those who died."
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz also made a statement at the press conference to express sympathies on behalf of the city and Dane County.
"I want to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Dr. Bean, Mark Coyne and Steve Lipperer," Cieslewicz said.
The mayor called the accident "a tragedy for the community," noting that he knew Dr. Bean and was impressed by his passionate work to increase heart attack victims' changes for survival.
"He was very excited about that work and was literally in the business of saving lives every day of his life," Cieslewicz said.
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Date Published: 05/14/2008