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Access Air crash kills five: Helicopter was airlifting baby, mom from Battle Mountain to Reno

Access Air crash kills five: Helicopter was airlifting baby, mom from Battle Mountain to Reno

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ELKO - An Access Air helicopter crashed in a remote area of northern Nevada late Saturday night, killing all three Elko crew members as well as two passengers.

According to the Access Air corporate office in Boise, the helicopter crashed shortly after 11:30 p.m.

Wreckage was found on the upper part of 9,775-foot Mount Tobin, Humboldt County Undersheriff Brian Jonas told The Associated Press.

The crew members who died included pilot Roger Morrison, paramedic Todd Hellman and flight nurse Lisa Landers.

The names of the mother and 11-day-old infant who were killed had not been released.

"We're devastated," Jim Hutchens, president of Access Air, told the AP. "These were our friends and colleagues."

Local emergency medical authorities said the incident was a loss to the community.

"It was a major tragedy, an unfortunate thing to happen to Elko County and the people that it serves," said Elko County Ambulance Director Bill Webb.

"It's a tragic loss for all the families, a tragic loss in the community and in the emergency services business," said Elko Fire Chief Alan Kightlinger. "My hope and prayer is for Access Air to recover quickly and to continue to provide care and life-saving services to all of northeast Nevada."

According to Elko County Sheriff Neil Harris, the loss impacts everyone in the public safety field.

"We've had the opportunity to work with many of the people who were on board and because of that it becomes a personal loss," Harris said.

A Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital spokesperson said the entire hospital staff was saddened by the crash.

"These are people we know personally as friends and neighbors. … They play a critical role with the health and safety in the community. We've lost friends and co-workers. They will be deeply, deeply missed."

An account for donations for the families is being set up at Wells Fargo Bank, said an Access Air spokesperson.

This is the first accident the company has had since it was established in 1995 and it is moving forward in securing another aircraft for the Elko area, said an Access Air spokesperson.

The Bell 407 helicopter was en route to Washoe Medical Center after landing at Battle Mountain General Hospital to pick up the baby and its mother, according to the AP.

The helicopter crashed near the Pershing-Humboldt county line, about 25 miles southwest of Battle Mountain and 100 miles southwest of Elko.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, according to an Access Air spokesperson.

A search for the helicopter began after it was reported missing and the wreckage was spotted late Sunday morning by another pilot, according to the AP.

Plans call for the victims to be recovered today and they will be taken to the Pershing County Coroner's Office, Gary Derks of the state Emergency Management Division told the AP.

Free Press writer Marianne Kobak can be reached at 738-3118 or by e-mail at crime@elkodaily.com.

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