ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – UNM Hospital has released surveillance video that shows a medical helicopter crashing into the hospital’s roof just after takeoff earlier this month.
In the video from Apr. 9, you see the helicopter take off and go every direction but up. Hospital staff walked media through the video on Friday and the critical decisions by those involved that kept the accident from turning deadly.
The helicopter takes off, rotates to turn into the wind and keeps turning. Hospital staff said the pilot tried to put the helicopter down on the helipad but then thought better. Rather than damage the helipad or try flying off, the pilot decided to lay the helicopter down on its side on the roof. This all happened in a matter of 12 seconds.
“I find that very impressive piloting in a very short period of time,” Dr. Bob Bailey, a UNM physician and an emergency operations center commander, said. “A lot of decisions were made. I think in doing that, he not only may have saved his own life and the crews’ life, but he may have saved the lives of a lot of other people.”
According to a preliminary report from the NTSB, the pilot said the control pedals froze or jammed upon takeoff.
Seconds after the helicopter crasheD, the video shows two security officers rush toward the burning helicopter after they’ve activated the fire suppression system. One security officer helped pull the pilot to safety, while the other battled flames with a fire extinguisher.
The pilot suffered minor injuries and the two other crew members were unharmed.
“Once it was down we activated the system and went to work,” said Eugene Lujan an officer who was present at the crash. “They needed help, so we just responded.”
During the crash the blades of the helicopter cut through part of the roof, causing some damage. Repairs were completed Thursday night.
Hospital staff said a debriefing will be scheduled to go over what went well and what could be done differently should this happen again.
The NTSB is still investigating. A final report could take several more months.