Air Ambulance Helicopter Crash in East Texas

Another Tragic EMS Helicopter Crash

Four die in air ambulance crash in the Sam Houston National Forest outside Huntsville, Texas on June 8, 2008. The EMS helicopter was owned and operated by PHI Inc.  Listed as dead are the helicopter pilot Wayne Kirby, paramedic Stephanie Waters, flight nurse Jana Bishop and patient that was being transported, David Disman.

BREAKING NEWS ALERTPHI Helicopter Crash Kills Eight – Jan. 4, 2009 near New Orleans, La.

Air Ambulance Crash Details

On June 8, 2008, at 0248 central daylight time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N416PH, owned by PHI, Inc., and operated as “Med 12” was destroyed when it impacted a heavily forested area in the Sam Houston National Forest, near Huntsville, Texas. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The air ambulance flight was being operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on a company Visual Flight Rules flight plan. The pilot, flight nurse, flight paramedic, and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight departed the Huntsville Memorial Hospital at 0246, after picking up a patient, and was en route to Herman Memorial Helipad, Houston, Texas.

The accident helicopter was equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) flight tracking system referred to as “Outerlink”. According to data from the Outerlink system, the helicopter powered up for flight at 0244:11 and departed the hospital at 0246:56. The last coordinates recorded were at 0247. The helicopter was at an altitude of 1,016 feet mean sea level and traveling at a groundspeed of 106 knots. The calculated direction of flight was 170 degrees. The flight was scheduled to report in at 0300. No transmissions were received.


12:45 a.m.: Life Flight dispatcher receives a request from Huntsville Memorial Hospital to transport a patient to Memorial Hermann Hospital-The Texas Medical Center.

1:18 a.m.: Life Flight pilot tells dispatcher they are aborting the mission because of the weather. About two minutes later, the dispatcher notifies Huntsville hospital officials that the mission is canceled.

2:45 a.m.: PHI Air Medical dispatcher in Montgomery County tells the Life Flight dispatcher that one of their helicopters is taking the patient to Memorial Hermann.

2:47 a.m.: Last radio transmission from PHI helicopter is heard.

The wreckage was located by aerial search and rescue teams at 0830, about 2.5 miles southwest of the last known coordinates, with the aid of the 406 emergency locator transmitter (ELT). Debris was scattered approximately 630 feet from the initial impact point to the farthest point of the main wreckage. The debris path included the aft portion of the tail boom (including the vertical fin, tail rotor, and portions of the driveshaft), the mast and transmission assembly, and three of the four main rotor blades. The fuselage separated into three sections, the aft portion (including the engine), the center portion (cabin area), and the forward section (cockpit). Following the on-scene examination, the wreckage was recovered and relocated to a hangar for further detailed examination.

The closest official weather observation station was Huntsville Municipal Airport (UTS), Huntsville, Texas, located 8 nautical miles (nm) north of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 363 feet msl. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for UTS, issued at 0235, reported, winds variable at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles; sky condition scattered 1,200 feet; temperature 26 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 23 degrees C; altimeter 29.97 inches.

According to the United States Naval Observatory, Astronomical Applications Department Sun and Moon Data, the moon rose at 1023 on the preceding day and set at 0015 the day of the accident. The moon was waxing crescent with 30 percent of the moon’s visible disk illuminated. Air Ambulance Crash NTSB Report DEN08FA101