3 Dead In Medical Helicopter Crash In Hazelhurst

Helicopter Found Friday After Going Missing Thursday Night

Ascension Wisconsin says it’s suspending operations of its air and ground medical transport units following the fatal crash of a medical helicopter in northern Wisconsin.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office says three flight crew members on board an Ascension Wisconsin Spirit helicopter died when it crashed in Hazelhurst, a small town about 60 miles north of Wausau.

The wreckage was found early Friday after the chopper was reported missing late Thursday night.

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Services will be suspended until the company determines when it’s appropriate to resume operations. The company said in a statement that it’s working with emergency service partners and medical transportation colleagues in the region to meet patient needs.

Air Methods operates medical air services for Ascension, providing mechanics and pilots. Ascension operates its own ambulances in the region.

In a written statement, Ascension Wisconsin said the company is “deeply saddened and mourning the loss of three teammates.”

The three deceased are thought to be a pilot and two medical personnel, said Daniel Hess, chief deputy for the sheriff’s office.

Authorities said the last known contact with the helicopter was at 10:55 p.m. Thursday. An initial call came in at 11:22 p.m. Thursday and several people called reporting a helicopter at low-altitude, Hess said.

Deputies began the search, aided by local fire departments. At least eight agencies were involved in the search.

“The (state Department of Natural Resources) had a plane up. Spirit’s other helicopter was up. We were looking at coordinates from the Minneapolis airport and the final location where they had them, and ended up locating them in a wooded area,” Hess said.

The wreckage was found around 2 a.m. Friday west of Highway 51 and 12 miles short of its destination.

The flight began in Madison and was headed back to its home base at the Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff, Hess said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

Editor’s Note: This story was last updated at 3:38 p.m. Friday, April 27, 2018.