Teams Comb For Clues in Life Flight Crash

Teams Comb For Clues in Life Flight Crash

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Search and rescue teams searched through the night for pieces of a Life Flight helicopter that crashed after rescuing a stranded hiker.

At 8:11 p.m. Saturday, the helicopter crashed on takeoff shortly after delivering the hiker to safety, killing the pilot and injuring a paramedic and flight nurse. Their names have not yet been released.

The helicopter crashed near 60th South and Wasatch Blvd. Witnesses said it appeared the tail rotor broke apart.

The medical helicopter rescued the 20-year-old woman who suffered heat exhaustion while hiking Mount Olympus, said LDS Hospital spokesman Jess Gomez.

"They experienced some problem at 600 feet," he said. "We don't know what, and at that point they came down, instantly killing the pilot."

The two other crew members' injuries weren't life-threatening, but they were in serious condition, Gomez said.

An AirMed helicopter from University Hospital flew the paramedic to LDS hospital. An ambulance transported the nurse.

The helicopter was one of two remaining Life Flight helicopters operated out of LDS Hospital. Life Flight has been running for 25 years, suffering its first fatal crash in January, when thick fog led to a crash that killed two.

"Every day, they go up and put their life on the line," Gomez said. "People all over the state owe their lives to this dedicated community. We are just heart broken by this."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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