PHOENIX (Reuters) - The pilot and a crew member of a medical helicopter were killed and another crew member was critically injured when their aircraft crashed late on Tuesday in a rugged wilderness area of southeastern Arizona, authorities said.
The survivor, who used a flashlight to signal to rescuers, was in very serious condition after being taken to a Phoenix area trauma center, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told reporters on Wednesday.
Those who died were the pilot and a 38-year-old nurse, and the survivor was a medic, also 38, officials said. The helicopter was not transporting any patients at the time.
“What they do each and every day is to help people,” Babeu told a news conference. “For them to go down is a tragedy.”
The sheriff’s office said the helicopter crashed in a remote area of the Superstition Mountains, about 12 miles north of the town of Superior, Arizona. Superior is located about 65 miles east of Phoenix.
The helicopter was an Airbus AS350 B3 Native Air aircraft, which is owned and operated by Air Methods, according to Christina Brodsly, an Air Methods spokeswoman.
Sheriff’s officials were investigating the crash with the National Transportation Safety Board, Babeu said.
The injured medic was rescued by a military helicopter after almost four hours at the crash site, he said.
Both the medic and pilot were from Gilbert, Arizona, while the nurse was from Mesa, Arizona, authorities said. The age of the pilot was not immediately available.
Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Frances Kerry