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Medical Helicopter Crash in Tennessee Kills Pilot, 2 Medics

By Michael Mullins   |  

A medical helicopter on its way to pick up a sick child crashed in Tennessee on Tuesday, killing the pilot and two medics.

The aircraft went down in a wooded area shortly after 6 a.m. in Somerville, Tenn., approximately 45 miles east of Memphis.

On board was the helicopter's pilot, 47-year-old Charles Smith, nurse Carrie Barlow, 43, and respiratory therapist Denise Adams, also 43, the New York Daily News reported.

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The helicopter was being operated out of Memphis' Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

"This was a very experienced pilot and a very experienced crew and a great helicopter, so we're all anxious to know what happened," Le Bonheur Children's Hospital President and CEO Meri Armour told reporters.

Smith, a father of two, was a retired Memphis police officer, having served on the force for 25 years before retiring from the department's aviation unit and joining the hospital in 2012.

The hospital became aware that something was wrong after there was no response from Smith following a routine 10-minute check-in call. Police subsequently found the helicopter's burning wreckage in the woods.

"There not very much left of (the helicopter), and what little there is is badly burned," Fayette County Sheriff's Office Inspector Ray Garcia told the New York Daily News on Tuesday. "It's just basically debris at this point."

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash, Garcia added.

Memphis National Weather Service forecaster Corey Chaskelson added, "there were clouds around 4,000 to 5,000 feet ... but we do not know if weather was a factor."

Barlow, the nurse of 13 years who was with Smith when the helicopter went down, was a mother of three who had lived with her husband in West Tennessee. Adams, a Pedi-Flite respiratory therapist of eight years, lived with her husband in the Tennessee town of Arlington and was similarly a mother of three.

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The child for whom the helicopter was dispatched was reportedly taken to a medical facility by an ambulance.

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