Investigator: Medical helicopter pilot encountered lowering clouds before crash near Eufaula

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EUFAULA, Oklahoma — A federal investigator says the pilot of a medical helicopter that crashed last week in eastern Oklahoma had encountered lowering clouds and was trying to turn around before crashing into trees and rocky terrain.

Pilot Matt Matthews was killed and two crew members, nurse Kim Ramsey and paramedic Ryan Setzkorn, had injuries that weren't life-threatening after the EagleMed LLC helicopter crashed late Thursday near Eufaula.

Tom Latson, an investigator with National Transportation Safety Board, tells the McAlester News-Capital (http://bit.ly/1O16jw9 ) the crew was on the way back to McAlester Regional Airport after dropping off a teen critically injured in a car accident at a Tulsa hospital.

According to Latson, the tail boom and the front end of the helicopter separated from the rest of the aircraft. The two surviving crew members were rescued when one of them used his cellphone to notify his home base of his location.

Latson says a thorough investigation will seek to identify what caused the crash, including an examination of the plane's engine, and a search for any equipment that would record flight data. A meteorology specialist will analyze weather conditions and an air traffic control specialist will look at air traffic control and radar data.

A storm front that would later bring rain was slowly moving into the area at the time. Latson said there is evidence that Matthews thoroughly checked weather conditions before departing for McAlester.

A spokesman for EagleMed declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation.

This is the fourth crash for EagleMed in Oklahoma in recent years.


Information from: McAlester News-Capital, http://www.mcalesternews.com

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