Brother of victim: Paramedic died 'doing what he loved most' - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Brother of victim: Paramedic died 'doing what he loved most'


The brother of a paramedic who died in a Mercy Med Flight helicopter crash said his brother loved his job and loved helping people.

Russ Piehl, originally from Denver, was one of three people who died Wednesday night in the helicopter crash north of Ventura in Cerro Gordo County. His brother, Gregg Piehl, lives in Waverly.

"That was his dream all his life was to be a flight paramedic, and so he did that," Gregg Piehl said of his brother. "He was just excellent at his job, and he loved what he did."

Russ was the youngest of four brothers. There was a five-year age difference between Russ and Gregg, but Gregg said their family was close-knit.

"I talked to him so much and I'll miss his laughter," he said. "I'll miss the corny jokes that he said...I'll miss all of that."

Gregg said he will also miss giving his brother a hard time about being a Green Bay Packers fan.

"He bled green and gold," he said.

Funeral arrangements were not arranged, as the family was still waiting for autopsy results.

In a statement released Thursday morning from Gregg Piehl, he wrote the following:

"My brother Russ died last night doing what he loved to do most in this world," Gregg Piehl said in a statement. "He was aboard a medical helicopter on its way to help someone in need when it crashed. How many of us left behind live our lives doing what we love? He told me more than once that this was God's plan for him while on this earth.

"Russ lived loving life in many ways. Whether it was riding his Harley with Mel and his friends, pontooning on the lakes in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, bleeding 'Packer Green and Gold' every year for as long as I can remember -- even when the Packers were really bad -- and even spending time with Vicki and me.

"The best way I can describe my brother is that I used to call him 'a good old boy from a good old town.' Russ just wanted to be your friend. He wanted to share a beer of two with you and share stories. He just wanted to get along, and to give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

'Russ loved Mel, his kids and grandkids, and my heart aches for all of them. He also personally knew Jesus and loved God, so I know that he is looking at the face of God right now. He is with my parents and grandparents in perfect peace enjoying paradise."

The helicopter crash also killed nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau and pilot Gene Grell. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

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