Nevada medical transport crash kills five, including a patient
Authorities are trying to determine what caused a medical transport plane to crash in the mountains of northern Nevada that killed all five people on board, including a patient.
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of seven investigators to the crash site Friday night near the stagecoach.
The crash occurred amid a winter storm warning issued by the Reno National Weather Service for large areas of Nevada, including parts of Lyon County. It was snowing steadily with winds around 20 mph (30 km/h) and gusts up to 30 mph (50 km/h).
It left Reno for Salt Lake City, Utah, and had less than 2 miles (3.2 km) of visibility and a cloud ceiling about 2,000 feet (600 m) above the ground when it crashed, according to the Weather Service.
Care Flight, which provides air and helicopter emergency services, identified the crashed aircraft as a Pilatus PC-12 and said the pilot, flight nurse, flight paramedic, patient and the patient’s family were all dead.
Robin Hayes, a stagecoach resident and former flight nurse, said he heard a plane fly over his house and crash behind his house.
“We knew the plane was out of order,” Hayes told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I knew it was going to crash. I hoped it didn’t hit the house.”
Hayes called 911 and got out, but the snowstorm prevented him from seeing the wreckage.
Misty Gruenemei told the newspaper that the wind was howling behind the stagecoach house and the snow was blowing hard. It is home to 2,500 inhabitants.
Gruenemay said he wanted to help, but the situation was so bad that he didn’t have a car that could safely navigate a dirt road buried in six inches of snow.
“It was snowing and visibility was poor. I don’t understand why that plane was allowed to take off,” said Grunemey.
Authorities began receiving calls about the crash near the Nevada stagecoach around 9:15 p.m. and found the wreckage two hours later, according to the Lion County Sheriff’s Office.
Careflight officials said they have suspended all flights and will work with each operation to determine when services will resume.
The plane was registered with Guardian Flight, based in South Jordan, Utah, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Care Flight is a service of REMSA Health for Reno and Guardian Flight.
According to the National Association of Insurance Supervisors website, more than 500,000 medical patients use air ambulance services in the United States each month.