Local News

Duke Life Flight crash victims transported to funeral homes

Posted September 13

— Emergency responders transported the victims of a Duke Life Flight crash to funeral homes on Wednesday.

“The Life Flight and Duke University Hospital teams felt this was a fitting and appropriate way to honor the return of the remains of our fallen colleagues back home,” a hospital spokesperson said.

Four people were killed Friday when a Duke Life Flight medical helicopter crashed in northeast North Carolina, according to the State Highway Patrol.

The crash occurred in a grassy field near Amazon's wind farm outside the town of Belvidere, south of the Perquimans-Gates county line.

The helicopter, which was based at Johnston Regional Airport in Smithfield, was en route to Duke University Hospital in Durham from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center in Elizabeth City when it went down, officials said. A pilot, two medical personnel and a patient were aboard at the time, officials said.

On Saturday, Duke Hospital identified the staff members as flight nurses Kris Harrison and Crystal Sollinger and pilot Jeff Burke. The patient was identified as 70-year-old Mary Bartlett.

The Life Flight program has been grounded until further notice, Duke University Hospital President Kevin Sowers said.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board went to the crash site Friday afternoon to assist with the investigation into the cause of the crash. Sowers said Duke is cooperating with investigators.

"We have no idea at this time and we will cooperate with the NTSB on the investigation, but we have no idea what happened," Sowers said.

"The men and women of Duke Life Flight put their lives at risk every day to go bring critically ill patients back to this hospital," Sowers said. "We are very saddened by our loss today."

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