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Medical Helicopter Crash Kills 3

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Van Buren County, AKA helicopter crash early Tuesday morning killed three crew members when it went down in the hills of central Arkansas. Reports indicate that the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter hit the ground just outside a residential home. No one on the ground has been reported injured or killed.

The helicopter had been dispatched to pick up a patient in Crabtree, Alaska, who had been injured in a traffic accident.

The three crew members were killed on impact, according to Van Buron County Coroner Dorothy Banscum. "I would say they might have seen it coming, but that was it," she said. "The helicopter was just melted and it was in pieces." The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The Bell 206 helicopter was built in 1978 and was equipped with night vision gear. No patients were on board at the time of the crash. Lynn Lunsford, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Authority, told local media that the crew were flying under visual flight rules. "It doesn't appear they were talking to any air traffic controllers at the time."

This crash is one of several that Air Evac Lifeteam has suffered, the most recent being in March, when three crew members were killed in western Tennessee. In 2008, an Air Evac helicopter crashed in an Indiana cornfield, killing three people. In 2007, an Air Evac helicopter crashed in Colbert County, Al, killing another three-member crew.

In July 2010 an Air Evac helicopter was forced to land near Tulsa, Oklahoma after the aircraft's hydraulics failed. No one was hurt in that incident.

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