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Air Ambulance Crashes Killing Gunshot Patient, Crew Hospitalized

October 5, 2014 - On Saturday an Air Evac Lifeteam air ambulance based out off Duncan, Okla., was involved in a crash about 1:53 AM while on approach to United Regional Health Care in Wichita Falls, Texas. 

There were three crew members and one patient onboard at the time of the accident. The patient onboard the aircraft perished at the scene. Air Evac Lifeteam officials confirm the employees onboard the Bell 206 LongRanger III helicopter (N49746) as pilot Zechariah Smith, flight nurse Leslie Stewart, and flight paramedic Erasmus J. Vandercolff. 

The flight paramedic, flight nurse and pilot remain hospitalized from injuries sustained in an accident. The pilot is being treated at United Regional and is in critical condition. The other two flight crew members were taken to Parkland Hospital  in Dallas for severe burns.


The patient was being transported by helicopter after being shot to his upper body by a shotgun. The patient has been identified as 26-year-old Buddy Rhodes. The shooting took place at a home located on 531 E. D Avenue in Waurika around 11:30 PM on Friday. 

The Air Evac Lifeteam Bell helicopter crashed bring down power lines on a downtown street at the intersection of Ninth and Grace streets next to a parking. Cari Winchester, who witnessed crash, says, "I was sitting in the parking lot of a convenience store when I heard the helicopter. It didn't seem like it sounds right then, because I hear them all the time around here. It sounded like it was bogged down. Then I heard it. It was bogged down and it was like struggling. It did it like three times, struggling. Then you heard a big, loud snap like of electricity and seen the flash." 

Daniel Sweeza, vice president of operations for Air Evac Lifeteam, said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in this accident. Our focus at this time is on providing support for the crew members, their family and friends." At this time the cause of the accident is unknown.


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