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Ascension Spirit 2 Resumes Medical Flights In Northern Wisconsin

Flights Had Been Suspended Following April 26 Crash That Killed 3

Photo courtesy of Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport

Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport has resumed its medical helicopter flights from northern Wisconsin’s Howard Young Medical Center. The flights were suspended after a crash that killed three crew members April 26.

The crash in Hazelhurst, just a few miles south of the medical center, took the lives of pilot Rico Caruso, flight nurse Klint Mitchell and flight medic Greg Rosenthal.

Charlie Kotke, Spirit regional manager, said the service resumed flying Friday and transported a patient Saturday.

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“Rico, Klint and Greg, they will always be in our memory, and I think that they would want us to have our service back up and running and providing for the community that they were a part of.” Kotke said. “We think of Spirit 2, we think of them.”

Kotke said the resumption of flights means a lot to the people who knew the three victims.

“The crew needed their time, losing our coworkers. We lost friends. It is a step in the healing process, I think, as well as being able to get back into service and provide to our communities,” Kotke said.

Spirit 2 is now flying a single-engine Airbus AS 350 helicopter similar to the one that crashed.

Kotke said the helicopter, provided by vendor Air Methods, would be in use temporarily while Ascension looks at different types of aircraft for a permanent solution.

The cause of the April 26 crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

A preliminary report by the NTSB said the Eurocopter AS 350 went down in clear skies and clipped the branches of a 70-foot-tall tree. The helicopter had undergone an extensive safety examination the day before the crash.

Since the crash, Ascension’s five medical centers in northern Wisconsin have been serviced by Spirit 1, a twin-engine Airbus H145 based in Stevens Point.