May 10, 2008 – Madison, WI
A Med Flight helicopter was from the UW Hospital crashed outside La Crosse. It had dropped off its and was returning when the accident occurred.
Three University of Wisconsin Hospital Employees died in the crash:
Pilot Steve Lipperer
Emergency room physician Dr. Darren Bean (37)
Nurse Mark Coyne
Pilot error as well as “the lack of a helicopter terrain awareness and warning system” were cited as the causes, according to a report issued the National Transportation Safety Board.
The NTSB reports the causes of the crash were likely due to “the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from trees along the top of the ridgeline due to inadequate preflight planning (and) insufficient altitude.” The report also cited the fact that the helicopter didn't have the terrain awareness and warning equipment.
The report states that a radar altimeter was installed on the helicopter and set at 500 feet. Officials said that they believe the pilot might have been deliberately flying below 500 feet to avoid clouds.
The NTSB officials said that they believe an awareness and warning system in the aircraft would have alerted the pilot to the approaching ridgeline before the crash.
Fire Station #12 Renamed to honor Dr. Darren Bean.