UPDATE: Medical helicopter crash near Ventura kills three - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Medical helicopter crash near Ventura kills three


Authorities say three people are dead after a medical helicopter flying out of Mason City crashed into a field Wednesday night. 

A source at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa said the medical helicopter crashed just north of Ventura, in Cerro Gordo County, just after 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Multiple emergency crews were on scene, including crews from Ventura and Clear Lake.

Authorities say 44-year-old nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau and 48-year-old paramedic Russell Piehl were killed in the crash.  The pilot, 53-year-old Gene Grell, was also killed.

Piehl is originally from the Waterloo area.

The helicopter, operated by Med-Trans Air Medical Transport, based in Lewisville, Texas, was headed to Emmetsburg to pick up a patient.

Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Kevin Pals says the cause of the crash is being investigated.

Officials at a press conference Thursday morning in Mason City said the aircraft was in compliance with safety regulations and inspections.  Med-Trans President & CEO Fred Buttrell said Grell was an experienced pilot, and was hired by the company in September.  He started flying for the company in October after training.

Through its affiliates, Med-Trans transports 20,000 patients each year.
Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa started its helicopter service in 1999.

Mercy Medical Center had not previously experience any accidents.
Med-Trans had an accident under different ownership in 2004.


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