ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – Authorities removed the remnants Saturday of a medical helicopter that crashed while taking off from the roof of New Mexico’s only top-level trauma center.
A small crowd gathered as a crane lowered the helicopter from the rooftop of University of New Mexico Hospital to the ground in Albuquerque.
Hospital spokesman Billy Sparks said the hospital remained fully operational during the process.
The hospital temporarily converted to using power from an internal generator, eliminating the potential for any accidents ignited by outside power sources.
A tail section was the first piece removed, followed by jet fuel, which was channeled into special hazmat barrels, Sparks said. The crane then lifted the helicopter’s body.
Officials said they are hoping to begin construction repairs to the roof by Saturday night.
The National Transportation Safety Board still has control of the site as the agency continues its investigation, Sparks said.
All medical helicopters have been instructed to land at Albuquerque’s Presbyterian Hospital.
Neither the pilot nor the two crew members on board during Wednesday’s crash were seriously hurt.
Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB inspected the wreckage and interviewed people who were on the ground at the time of the crash.
Some witnesses had reported a gust of wind before the chopper went down. But Brad Deutser, a spokesman for PHI Air Medical, the company that owns the aircraft, said it’s too soon to say what might have contributed to the crash.