REACH Air Medical Services and Cal-Ore Life Flight are in recovery mode after the July 29, 2016 loss of an airplane carrying three crew members and a patient.
Communication was lost early Friday morning when the aircraft heading from Crescent City Airport to Oakland International Airport went off radar northeast of the Arcata, CA.
Search efforts were delayed due to the difficult terrain and weather and it was hours before the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue teams were able to locate the crash site north of McKinleyville, CA. They initially reported two fatalities. It was later confirmed there were no survivors.
In addition to the patient, there were three Cal-Ore Life Flight personnel on board: Pilot Larry Mills, Flight Nurse Deborah Kroon, RN, CCRN, and Certified Flight Paramedic Michelle Tarwater, FP-C, NREMT-P.
Upon confirmation of the accident, REACH President Sean Russell held a company-wide call with all employees to share the news. “This is one of the saddest moments in our history. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the patient and our crewmembers.” Mr. Russell acknowledged the road ahead would be difficult for all involved. Memorial services for the crew are being planned for later this week.
The cause of the accident is unknown at this time. Mr. Russell added: “We all have the same questions, but until we have factual reports from the NTSB, there is nothing more we can share.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is on scene investigating the accident and it expects to have a preliminary report sometime in the next 10 to 14 days.