Three people have died in an Amarillo plane crash that took place on Saturday, April 29, 2017. The crash happened in the early morning as an air ambulance service left the airport in Amarillo, Texas, headed for Clovis, New Mexico. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration are both investigating the cause of the crash. According to reports, the small plane took off in severe weather, which is often just one of many factors involved in a plane crash.
Rico Aviation Confirms Three Crew Members Died in Amarillo Plane Crash
Rico Aviation, an air ambulance firm, confirmed via Facebook on Saturday, April 29, that three of its crew members died in the crash. Killed in the tragedy were pilot Robin Shaw and flight nurses Misty Nicholson and Scott Riola.
“Rico Aviation regrets to confirm the loss of three crew members last night. We are devastated by this tragedy and are mourning the loss of our team members. The families have been notified and they are in our hearts and prayers,” the company wrote on its Facebook page.
NTSB Holds Press Conference Regarding Texas Plane Crash
On Monday, May 1, the NTSB held a press conference at Rick Husband International Airport to provide information on the plane crash, although officials said they would not speculate on what caused the Pilatus PC-12 to crash shortly after it left the airport.
According to Joshua Lindberg, the investigator in charge of the investigation, the team will stay at the scene of the crash for around four days to gather information and ensure all parts of the aircraft are properly identified. The agency will also examine aircraft maintenance records and the pilot’s background to determine what caused the tragedy.
Although the weather was severe at the time of the crash, it is still too early to state that it was a cause of the accident as there are many other factors that could have been involved. The plane involved in the crash does not have a black box recorder, but there are devices on board the plane that could provide critical information as to the cause of the crash. Further, the NTSB has indicated the pilot contacted air traffic control just before the plane went down, which may also hold some clues as to what was happening in the plane prior to the crash.
News reports indicate that it is not yet known exactly when the plane crashed, just that it crashed about two miles from the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport shortly after it took off. The crash site was in a field near railroad tracks, and emergency responders reached the scene around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
Weather conditions had deteriorated throughout the night, with winds between 24 and 32 miles per hour and visibility at 10 miles.
Anyone who witnessed the crash is urged to contact the NTSB at [email protected] or call local law enforcement.
Rico Aviation Celebrated 20th Anniversary in 2016
The company that operated the plane, Rico Aviation, celebrated its 20thanniversary in July 2016. At that time, the company had two planes, one jet, and six pilots. The Pilatus PC-12 can carry up to six people including a three-man crew. Rico Aviation is operated from Amarillo but can fly critical patients across the U.S.
Air Ambulance Services a Source of Concern
In recent years, the rate of air ambulance accidents has been given more focus by the NTSB and safety advocates, although the majority of that has been focused on helicopter ambulances, rather than plane ambulances. In 2008, according to the NTSB, there were 12 air ambulance helicopter crashes. Those crashes took the lives of a total of 29 crew members and their patients. That fall, helicopter EMS safety was added to the NTSB’s “Most Wanted” list of improvements.
Part of the reason for the spike in air ambulance crashes may have been due to a drastic increase in the number of EMS aircraft in operation. Further, many EMS flights take place in less than ideal weather conditions, including at night or in times of low visibility, and cannot follow scheduled flight plans. Air ambulance pilots might also face pressure to conduct flights in less-than-ideal circumstances if a patient’s life is on the line or if management pushes for a flight to go ahead.
In 2015, a medical helicopter crashed in California, killing the pilot, nurse, paramedic, and a patient. The helicopter was operated by SkyLife and was on its way from Fresno to Bakersfield when it crashed. The aircraft involved in that crash was a Bell407.
Air Ambulance Crash Attorney
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is experienced at investigating medical aircraft crashes and advocating for the rights of people affected by such tragedies. If someone you love was injured in an air-ambulance crash, contact us to discuss your options. Our attorneys are available to evaluate your case and explain your rights.