All four passengers on a medical helicopter carrying a 2-month-old baby girl to a hospital in Pennsylvania survived when that helicopter crashed next to a church on Tuesday afternoon, CBS Philly reported. Officials called the landing, which also did not injure anyone on the ground, a "miracle."
A pilot, a crew member, a nurse and the infant were taken to local hospitals and are in stable condition with non-life threatening injuries, Upper Darby Fire Chief Derrick Sawyer said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
The medical chopper was heading to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia from Maryland when it crashed near the Drexel Hill United Methodist Church in Delaware County just before 1 p.m., CBS Philly reports. According to FlightAware, the helicopter took off from Hagerstown, Maryland, at 10:29 a.m. Tuesday and landed in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, less than 10 minutes later. Then at 12:06 p.m. the helicopter took off from Chambersburg before crashing 47 minutes after that. The helicopter appears to have maintained its speed while rapidly dropping in altitude.
All four victims were out of the aircraft by the time authorities arrived, Upper Darby Police Department Superintendent Timothy M. Bernhardt said.
Officials commended the pilot for dodging utility lines and managing to land the helicopter without hitting the church or any other nearby buildings or cars.
"The best way to describe it is a miracle," Sawyer told CBS Philly.
Authorities said they do not yet know why the helicopter crashed. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Crash victims, including 2-month-old girl, are all in stable condition
Superintendent Timothy M. Bernhardt of the Upper Darby Police Department confirmed Tuesday afternoon that those on board the helicopter were a pilot, a crew member, a nurse and a 2-month-old girl. All four were out of the aircraft by the time authorities arrived.
They were then transported to local hospitals. All four victims are in stable condition with non-life threatening injuries, Fire Chief Derrick Sawyer said.
Authorities reiterated they do not yet know why the helicopter crashed.
Helicopter owner says company will "cooperate fully" with investigation
The company that owns the helicopter that crashed said Tuesday that it plans to cooperate with the federal authorities investigating the crash. A representative for Air Methods said the EC 135 helicopter was part of the LifeNet transport program that is based out of Hagerstown, Maryland, adding that the team will "cooperate fully" with the FAA and NTSB's investigation.
FAA and NTSB will investigate
The FAA said in a statement that it and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate Tuesday's crash. The NTSB will lead the investigation and provide additional updates.
Upper Darby Fire Chief Derrick Sawyer said once the NTSB investigates they will make arrangements for the chopper to be removed from its location.
Director of Emergency Services: "I'm feeling grateful, honestly"
The director of Emergency Services for Delaware County said Tuesday he is "feeling grateful" after four people survived the crash.
"A helicopter down is never something we want to deal with," Timothy Boyce told CBS Philly. "When they pull up and see that it's a medical flight and then they tell you that there's a pediatric patient on there, and things are going the right direction right now, I think we have to be grateful."
"Whatever caused this, we will figure it out," he said.
"This was miraculous": Fire chief confirms all on board survived
Upper Darby Fire Chief Derrick Sawyer commended the pilot of the helicopter, confirming that all onboard the aircraft survived the crash, in an interview with CBS Philly.
"The best way to describe it is a miracle," Sawyer said. "Obviously this pilot had a great command of the helicopter and was able to land it safely - took the best interest in the community in hand to make sure there were no injuries and no property damage. So he did an excellent job."
He reiterated that this was the best possible outcome for the crash, confirming that everyone on board the helicopter, including the infant patient, survived.
"This was miraculous," Sawyer said.
When the helicopter crashed, it was carrying an hour worth of fuel, some of which began to leak. Fire officials secured local water systems so no fuel would leak into them and prepared water lines so that if a fire started they could respond immediately, Sawyer said. There was no fire.