Plane ‘broke up in flight’ before crash killed five onboard

Investigators from National Transport Safety Board look over plane wreckage in Nevada after a Pilatus PC-12 airplane crashed
National Transport Safety Board

A medical transport plane ‘broke up’ while in flight before crashing and killing all five people on board, authorities said.

The single engine Pilatus PC-12 airplane, which was carrying a patient at the time, crashed into a mountainous area on February 24, 2023, in Stagecoach, Nevada.

According to Care Flight, which operates medical aircraft, “a pilot, a flight nurse, a flight paramedic, a patient and a patient’s family member” all perished.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent a seven-member team to the crash site and they are expected to remain there for a number of days gathering evidence.

On February 26, the NTSB held a press conference where it indicated that the plane probably broke apart before the crash.

NTSB investigators look over plane wreckage in Nevada

“How do we know if the airplane broke up in flight? We found parts of the airplane one-half to three-quarters of a mile away,” said NTSB vice chair Bruce Landsberg.

Landsberg described the crash investigation as a “three-dimensional puzzle” and admitted that finding out the cause of the crash was difficult when “you don’t have the pieces all in one place”.

At the time of the crash the National Weather Service in Reno had issued a winter warning for large parts of the state.

Lyon County Sheriff’s Department confirmed it received multiple calls at about 9.15pm on February 24 regarding a plane crash and located the aircraft at approximately 11.15pm.

In a statement the sheriff’s office said: “Lyon County officials would like to express our deepest heartfelt condolences to all individuals, families, public safety agencies and community members impacted by this event.”

Care Flight announced the company had grounded all its planes until it was clearer what caused the crash.

After the crash Care Flight released the following statement: “We are heartbroken to report that we have now received confirmation from Central Lyon County Fire Department that none of the five people on board survived. We are in the process of notifying their family members.

“As is Guardian and Care Flight’s safety process in these situations, we are in a passive stand down for all Guardian and Care Flight flights across the company. We will work with each of our operations to ascertain when they are able to return to service.”

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