Medical chopper goes down, 3 killed

A Conway based Omniflight helicopter, known as Lifecare, crashed in a wooded area of Georgetown County overnight, killing all 3 on board.

Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson says the names of the three people are not being releasd at this time, but he did confirm the victims as the crew: the pilot, a nurse and a medic.

Emergency Management Director for Georgetown County Sam Hodge says the crew had just dropped a patient off at the Medical University of South Carolina and was returning to Conway.

FAA Spokeswoman Kathleen Bergin says the pilot last radioed air traffic control at 11:05 pm saying they were four miles from the Mt Pleasant Aiport and had it in sight.

Johnson says Omniflight's Operations Center last had contact with the helicopter at 11:16 pm Friday night. The pilot is required to periodically check in with the company. After not hearing from them again, the company became concerned and called 9-1-1. The wreckage was located a 1/4 of a mile down White Hall Road off Highway 17 in Georgetown County in a wooded area. Johnson said it's an isolated wreckage scene, "like it just dropped out of the sky."

Georgetown County officials have blocked off the scene and are waiting for officials from the FAA and the NTSB to arrive and begin investigating. The FAA will provide radar information, voice communication data, and weather information.

First Alert Chief Meteorologist Ed Piotrowski says there was rain and thunderstorms in and around Georgetown County around the time of the crash.

Omniflight issued the following statement:

Company Confirms Fatal Accident in South Carolina

Omniflight Helicopters, Inc. regretfully confirms that an American Eurocopter AS350B2 helicopter, which took off from the Charleston, S.C. airport at approximately 2308 PM, ET on Friday, September 25, 2009, crashed shortly after takeoff 63 miles southwest of Conway, S.C.

All three people on board, including the pilot, paramedic, flight nurse, were fatally injured in the tragic accident.

The aircraft was headed to Conway, S.C. (where the aircraft is based) and was reported missing shortly after take-off from the Charleston, S.C. airport. A search was initiated shortly after the aircraft failed to report in to Omniflight TMs communications center.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representatives are en route to the scene this morning where company officials are also present.

The company is working closely with the NTSB as they conduct a full investigation.

No names or personal information of the crew members or passengers will be released until proper notification has been completed.

Omniflight is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of its crew members and wishes to express its deepest regrets and sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

Stay with NewsChannel 15 and for more information. We'll post more details as we get them.