Air Ambulance Halts Service – 5 Killed in Alpine, Texas Crash

Victims of an Alpine plane crash were remembered Monday. Roger Folger and his wife Mary Catherine Folger, 73, were among five people killed just after midnight Sunday when their plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Brewster County.

The crash occurred early Sunday morning as Mary Folger was being transported back to Midland International Airport via air ambulance. She was being taken to a hospital in Odessa after a serious fall injured a hip she recently had replaced, according to her son.

Air Ambulance Stat, the medical wing of Amarillo-based O’Hara Flying Service, temporarily halted service after the crash of one of its twin-engine Cessna 421 planes about a mile east of Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport, a flight medic with the company.

The National Transportation Safety Board had investigators on site and had at least one agent from its transportation disaster assistance office, which provides assistance to those affected by plane crashes, in Alpine.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety reports, the plane was attempting to make an emergency landing, when it hit a rut in a muddy field, overturned and burned.

Medic Tracy Chambers, 42, of Alpine died in the crash, along with pilot Ted Caffarel, 59, of Beaumont also died in the crash.

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said a rut in a field wasn’t to blame. Dodson said that shortly after take-off, the plane had begun to land on a small hill northeast of the airport, breaking off its landing gear before going off the other side of the slope. Dodson said it landed on some “grape-fruit-sized rocks” and there were several explosions.

“When the deputy got there, it was still on fire and upside down,” said Dodson, who said the heat from the explosions kept the deputy from being able to get any closer.

This is the second fatal air ambulance crash involving transportation of patients between Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine and Odessa-Midland in 2004, four people were killed when Medical Center Hospital’s CareStar, a Bell 407 helicopter, crashed in a field near Pyote in Ward County.

“It’s obviously very premature to comment on that,” he said. “Right now, our thoughts are only on our parents.”

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