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Officials Look at 'Man, Machine, Environment' to Determine Cause of EagleMed Crash

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Investigators are still trying to determine the exact cause of a medical helicopter crash that killed two people and critically injured another. Investigators are still trying to determine the exact cause of a medical helicopter crash that killed two people and critically injured another.
Nurse Ryan Duke was killed in the crash. Pilot Alan Harrison (not pictured) was also killed. Nurse Ryan Duke was killed in the crash. Pilot Alan Harrison (not pictured) was also killed.
Michael Eccard survived the crash after he was tossed from the helicopter. Michael Eccard survived the crash after he was tossed from the helicopter.

Staff and Wire Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Members of the NTSB and FAA are on the scene of Thursday's medical helicopter crash in a Kingfisher County field that killed two people and critically injured another.

The EagleMed helicopter was en route from Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City to a hospital about 90 miles away in Okeene when it went down about 8 p.m. near Kingfisher, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford. Kingfisher is about 50 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

Jason Aguilera with the NTSB said investigators are looking into what is called "Man, Machine, Environment" to begin ruling out what caused  the crash.

"We'll take a look at the history and experience of the pilot, the maintenance records of the aircraft and the weather conditions at the time of the accident," Aguilera said.

A source told NEWS 9 that the survivor the crash indicated that something was wrong with one of the doors on the chopper and that something fell off causing the tail rotor to malfunction.

The NTSB has yet to talk to the medic who survived the accident, but that's likely to happen in the next day or so and a preliminary report is due out sometime next week. A final report can be expected in 6 to 12 months.

The pilot, 56-year-old Alan Dale Harrison, and nurse 35-year-old Ryan Marshall Duke died in the crash, according to a statement released early Friday by EagleMed LLC, the Wichita, Kan.-based company that operates the A-Star 350 helicopter.

EagleMed spokeswoman Shelia Rupp-Haag said 34-year-old Michael Eccard, a nurse and paramedic, was taken to the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

Allen Poston, a spokesman at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City, said Eccard was in serious condition Friday morning.

Stuteville said Eccard was conscious and talking when an ambulance crew arrived and that he showed no obvious signs of burn injuries. A report released by the Department of Public Safety stated Eccard was admitted with external, internal injuries and broken legs. He was listed in critical condition at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Rupp-Haag said no patient was on board at the time of the crash.

Kingfisher Mayor Jack Stuteville, who owns property near the crash site, was among the first on the scene. He said a man working on the land called him and told him he'd just seen a helicopter spin, then hit the ground.

"By the time I got there it was already burned to pieces. The bodies were charred beyond recognition. It was bad," Stuteville said.

Eccard was about 50 yards from the wreckage, he said.

"I have yet to figure out how he got out -- if he was thrown out or had enough adrenaline to get out on his own," Stuteville said.

He described the area as secluded, with only few homes nearby. "The neighbors didn't even know anything had happened until all the news helicopters started flying around," he said.

Integris Baptist spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said the hospital contracts with EagleMed for its medical flight services.

"They are not our employees, but it is our pain anytime something like this happens," Cayot said.

A woman answering the phone at Okeene Municipal Hospital said she didn't have any information about the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board was to lead the crash investigation, helped by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford.

Stuteville said FAA investigators were at the scene.

"They're not letting anybody into the crash site, they're keeping everyone about a half mile away. There are several people on site, but they're controlling who gets in and out," he said.

NTSB investigator Jason Aguilera was not immediately available for comment.

Officials with EagleMed will be meeting with victims' family members as well as other EagleMed crew members to help them deal with the tragedy.

An EagleMed spokesperson said it has been in operation for 30 years. This is the second major accident in the company's history.

A fund has been set up for the crash victims. The EagleMed918 Crew fund is set up at Commerce Bank and the fund is also linked on EagleMed's Web site as well.

More: 2 Dead, 1 Injured in Medical Helicopter Crash

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