Two crew members aboard an air ambulance have been killed after the helicopter they were traveling in crashed while on a rescue mission.
According to ABC News a third member of the rescue team on board was rushed to hospital with injuries and is in a critical condition.
Shelby County authorities confirmed that the Eurocopter EC130 crashed in Chelsea, Alabama, near Birmingham, while responding to a hiker who was experiencing breathing problems.
The chief deputy from Shelby County Sheriff’s Office told local media that the LifeSaver helicopter, owned by Air Methods, was requested by deputies just after 5:20pm on April 2, 2023.
According to reports deputies secured a landing zone for the helicopter near Highway 280 and Bear Creek Road.
In a statement Air Methods said that the air ambulance was travelling from Sylacauga, Alabama and suffered an “accident upon landing”.
The company confirmed that one of its crew members died at the scene while the second passed away while in hospital.
“Our deputies did the best they could to render aid. The helicopter was on fire,” chief deputy Clay Hammac said. “We count ourselves as family of all first responders, fire, medical and law enforcement. Many of us in this profession know these individuals who were involved so this affects us very deeply.”
In a press conference Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer described the first responders as “heroes”.
“This flight crew on Lifesaver, they’re heroes and so our hearts go out to the families of these two flight members and a heartfelt thanks to my heroes, Chelsea Fire and Rescue and the deputies that responded,” Mayor Picklesimer said. “Please remember these families that will be left behind and that have to deal with this tragic event.”
The hiker was transported to hospital using alternative transportation. Their condition is unknown.
The sheriff’s officers confirmed that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were investigating.