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Helicopters Collide Over Flagstaff

Theresa Bierer

By Theresa Bierer

Flagstaff, AZ – HOST INTRO: Flagstaff officials this morning are preparing to announce the names of the victims of yesterday's tragic midair helicopter collision. As Arizona Public Radio's Theresa Bierer reports, 6 people died and others were injured.

TB) One of the helicopters was owned by the Utah based company Classic Lifeguard. The other was operated by Air Methods of Englewood, Colorado but owned by Flagstaff medical center. FMC contracts with Air Methods for licensing and pilot services. On board that helicopter were medical personnel with Flagstaff based Guardian Air Transport. After colliding in midair about a half mile from the hospital, the helicopters went down a short distance from each other.

Flagstaff Police Sergent Tom Boughner says in addition to the serious injuries related to the impact, 2 Guardian employees were also injured at the scene.

Tom Boughner We learned that the first arriving units were a fire unit from station 4, and also a 2 person unit from Guardian ambulance. As they approached the scene they were blown back apparently by an explosion from the scene. They were able to walk out, they were ambulatory they were treated and they're in good condition.

TB) Flagstaff Fire Captain Mark Johnson says one of the difficulties responding to this helicopter crash was the emergency workers knew the victims.

Mark Johnson That's' the hard part about this whole thing. Lots of folks know lots of folks, just kind of a hard deal with everybody trying to deal with that and trying to do their job, too.

TB) Johnson said it took about 10 minutes to extricate the victims from the wreckage . Fuel from one of the helicopters sparked a wildfire on McMillian mesa. Several agencies assisted in the recovery and fire suppression efforts including Summit Fire, the Coconino County Sheriff's Office and the Forest Service.

A press conference is scheduled for 9 this morning at Flagstaff City Hall

In Flagstaff, For Arizona Public Radio, I'm Theresa Bierer.