Medical helicopter crash kills patient, 3 crew members

KANSAS CITY, Mo Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:55pm EDT

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KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - Federal authorities opened an investigation on Saturday into the cause of a medical air ambulance helicopter crash that killed a patient and three crew members Friday night.

The helicopter went down about a mile from the Midwest National Air Center airport in Mosby, Missouri near Kansas City where the pilot was planning to refuel, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The helicopter was transporting a patient to Liberty Hospital in Liberty, Missouri, northeast of Kansas City when it crashed, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said. There were no survivors.

The helicopter was transporting a patient from a hospital in Bethany, Missouri about 75 miles to Liberty, according to Colin McKee, director of the Midwest National airport.

The helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350, belonged to Air Methods Corporation and was based in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Air Methods identified the crew members killed as pilot James Freudenberg, 34, of Rapid City, South Dakota; flight nurse Randy Bever, 47, of Savannah, Missouri; and flight paramedic Chris Frakes, 36, also of Savannah.

Air Methods did not identify the patient.

Investigators for the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the crash site Saturday morning to begin looking into the cause of the crash.

(Editing by David Bailey and Peter Bohan)

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