NTSB: pilot decision led to deadly chopper crash

The aftermath of the Omniflight medical helicopter crash that killed pilot Patrick Walters, flight nurse Diana Conner and paramedic Randolph Dove

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that a pilot's decision to continue flying during bad weather is probably what led to the crash of a medical helicopter in Georgetown County in September of 2009.

The crash of the American Eurocopter AS-350 operated by OmniFlight Helicopters, Inc. killed pilot Patrick Walters, 45, of Murrells Inlet; nurse Diana Conner, 42, of Florence/Kingstree; and in-flight paramedic Randolph Claxton Dove, 39, of Bladenboro, NC.

The Conway-based chopper had just dropped off a patient at a Charleston hospital and was returning to base with no patients on board.

Shortly after the crash, an NTSB investigator told NewsChannel 15 there was "convective" weather, including rain, in the Georgetown area about 60 miles northeast of Charleston when the crash occurred.

"The pilot's decision to continue the visual flight rules flight into an area of instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the pilot's spatial disorientation and a loss of control of the helicopter" was the probable cause of the crash, according to the NTSB report released Friday.

The report said "inadequate oversight of the flight by Omniflight's Operational Control Center" contributed to the accident.