UNMH accepts patients again following chopper crash

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to arrive Thursday to investigate the helicopter crash on top of UNM Hospital that happened Wednesday.

A takeoff accident brought the copter back down and left its tail rotor hanging over the edge of the roof.

No one was seriously hurt, but the hospital was closed all evening and nearby streets were shut down for hours.

This crash happened on the roof of the main hospital next to the helipad just before 6 p.m. A PHI helicopter had just dropped off a patient.

When the pilot and two passengers took off from the helipad, the chopper started to spin and teeter near the side of the building.

“I saw the helicopter just kind of take off and then it just started spinning sideways and almost hit the side of the building and then kinda went up and crash landed almost on its side really hard,” said Stephanie Litten.

Witnesses say they saw fire and debris as soon as it crashed, followed by lots of black smoke and steam from the sprinkler systems.

The pilot was hurt and is in satisfactory condition. The two passengers appear to be fine, according to UNM Hospital.

Eighteen patients were moved from the fifth and sixth floors because of structural concerns with the roof. No one in the hospital was hurt.

The hospital is accepting all adult patients and pediatric patients with serious traumatic injuries. Other pediatric patients were being diverted to other area hospitals.

“Obviously we can’t land on the roof, but should we have additional patients that are flown in by helicopter, we using Johnson Field as an alternate site or Sunport if necessary,” said Billy Sparks of UNM Hospital.

The hospital helipad is out of commission and will likely stay that way until the FAA completes an on-site investigation.

Patients with scheduled appointments and surgeries are advised to call their clinics Thursday morning.

Families of patients at UNM Hospital who are seeking information are asked to call 505-272-4636.

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