FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4)– A Flight for Life medical helicopter crashed during departure from a hospital in Frisco on Friday afternoon, killing the pilot and injuring two others on board.
The helicopter was leaving St. Anthony Summit Medical Center when it crashed. Witnesses said it had trouble immediately on take off.
“We heard the helicopter take off, it started to spin uncontrollably, then crashed… big explosion, and debris started to come at me,” said witness Jason Bogner.
There were three crew members on board, all medical personnel. The pilot, identified as Patrick Mahany, 64, was critically injured and did not survive his injuries. The other two suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Mahany had been a pilot with Flight for Life since 1987. He was a Vietnam veteran pilot and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart during his years of service.
Bogner said he reacted in the only way he knew how, he ran toward the burning helicopter to help.
“As I climbed the hill could see that there was the helicopter that had actually crashed into an RV and both were on fire. There was a pilot with the windshield already busted out, trying to get out,” said Bogner.
The two injured were rushed to Denver metro area hospitals for treatment.
No patients were on board the helicopter when it crashed.
It is unclear what caused the helicopter to crash into flames.
“It was all relatively quick, but we knew we had to get people away from that, you are afraid it is going to explode,” said Bogner.
Copter4 flew over the crash scene at St. Anthony’s Summit Medical Center where the charred wreckage of the helicopter and other vehicles remained in the parking lot.
CBS4 Matt Kroschel tweeted an interview with a man who rescued people from the helicopter after it crashed.
Smoke from the crash was seen billowing from the south side of Lake Dillon were seen on Friday afternoon.
Lake Dillon Fire and Red, White & Blue Fire responded to the fire, along with the Summit County Sheriff, Summit County Ambulance and Frisco Police.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified of the crash and are en route to investigate.
Air Methods released this statement: “Air Methods reported that an accident involving an Astar AS350 B3 occurred Friday, July 3, 2015 at approximately 14:42pm MT in Frisco. Colo. We are deeply saddened by the news that our pilot was fatally injured, and our hearts go out to the pilot’s family. We can also confirm that the flight paramedic and flight nurse on board received injuries, and there were no patients on the aircraft. The FAA and the NTSB have our full cooperation as they further investigate the accident. We want to continue to make sure we have all of the facts correct. We will be back in touch with you once we have more information.”