Helicopter crashes on roof of UNM Hospital

Posted at: 04/09/2014 5:57 PM
Updated at: 04/09/2014 10:51 PM
By: Steve Mieczkowski, KOB.com

A medical helicopter attempting to take off from the helipad at UNM Hospital Wednesday afternoon lost control and crashed on the roof.

A spokesperson with UNM Hospital tells KOB Eyewitness News 4 the crash occurred at approximately 5:45 pm after dropping off a patient. The helicopter reportedly spun and crashed.

First responders who are normally on the scene at the helipad to assist were able to help evacuate people from the copter.

There were two crew members (one male and one female) and a male pilot on board. The pilot is reported to be in good and stable condition. None of the crew members have been identified. A spokesperson from PHI confirmed with KOB that the copter belonged to the company and have been in contact with the crew. The spokesperson tells KOB the crew members are expected to be released from UNM Hospital after being evaluated.

The 4th and 5th floors of the hospital directly below the scene of the accident have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

UNM Hospital is not accepting any new patients other than Level 1 trauma patients. Presbyterian Hospital and Rust Medical Center in Rio Rancho is on standby if needed. The hospital is also discouraging visitors of patients. Anyone who needs information of a patient oat the hospital is asked to call 272-INFO.

The hospital's helipad is currently closed as a result of the accident. Helicopters will be landnig at JohnsonField, which is approximately three minutes away from the hospital.

FAA representatives are on their way to the scene to investigate, and engineers will be arriving Thursday to assess if there is any structural damage to the building.

Wednesday evening, PHI Air Medical, the company that owns the helicopter, released the following statement:

"Late this afternoon, one of our helicopters, after dropping off a patient at UNM Medical Center, experienced an unforeseen issue on takeoff resulting in the aircraft coming off of the helipad and onto the hospital rooftop, where the aircraft came to rest on its side. The aircraft will remain on the rooftop of UNM Medical Center for further evaluation.

Most importantly, the crew of 3 suffered only very minor injuries, and we anticipate that they will be released from the hospital shortly after evaluation.  We are grateful for the fact that there were no significant injuries or further damage.  It is still very early in our understanding of what occurred and therefore, we have limited information.  We will work closely with the NTSB and the FAA to understand the cause of this incident.  As soon as we learn anything that we can share, we will make sure that you are among the first to know.

Again, we are most grateful that no one suffered any serious injury.  And, we are thankful to our local emergency response colleagues in the Albuquerque police and fire departments as well as the men and women at UNM Medical Center."