ELKO – The patient killed in Friday night’s fiery medical plane crash was a miner who was planning to retire soon, and the nurse was an Elko woman who got her “dream job” with American Medflight just a few weeks ago and was recently engaged to be married.
They were two of four victims killed when an American Medflight plane crashed into the Barrick Gold Corp. parking lot around 7:20 p.m., setting off a series of explosions and destroying vehicles but harming no one on the ground.
Also killed were the pilot, Japanese immigrant Yuji Irie; and paramedic Jake Shepherd of Utah.
Clohesey, 67, was a Spring Creek resident and a heavy equipment operator at Bald Mountain, which was sold by Barrick to Kinross Gold Corp. last year.
“We are greatly saddened by the loss of Ed Clohesey,” said Randy Burggraff, general manager of Kinross Bald Mountain. “He was an employee at the Bald Mountain mine for over 11 years and was a dedicated and kind equipment operator in our Mine Operations Department. Ed was known for sharing his positive and happy attitude with anyone he encountered. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and the others who died in this tragic accident.”
Clohesey was born in Seattle. According to his family, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969 and served in Germany guarding Pershing missiles. He worked in mobile home manufacturing in Yelm, Washington, and later as a maintenance and construction supervisor on Afognak Island, Alaska.
His family described him as an accomplished hunter, who enjoyed riding his motorcycle and being a member of the Wild Bunch motorcycle club.
Clohesey had suffered a heart attack in July and was being treated by Dr. Rodney Badger at Northeastern Nevada Cardiology.
Badger said Clohesey was experiencing chest pains and rapid heartbeat around 5:30 p.m. Friday, after which the decision was made to transport him to a hospital in Utah for open heart surgery.
“He was really looking forward to retirement,” Badger told the Deseret News. “My heart goes out to his family and friends.”
Clohesey is survived by his two sons, Lance and Andy, and his granddaughter Aurora.
Tiffany Urresti, 29, was a flight nurse who had been with American Medflight for about a month, according to her parents Debbi and Jim Urresti. They said she had worked as an emergency room nurse at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital before that.
Urresti also was a former firefighter.
Elko Fire Chief Matt Griego talked about Urresti’s involvement with the volunteer fire department and said her father has been with the department 30 years.
“It hits home. The crew is coping as well as they can,” Griego said.
He said Urresti was known statewide for her service and there has been an outpouring from all over the state.
She had recently become engaged, according to Griego. He mentioned her fiancé, Elko Regional Airport Assistant Director Jim Foster. They were to be married in May.
Her parents said Tiffany had dreamed for years of working as a flight nurse.
Nevada Regent-elect Cathy McAdoo, a longtime friend of the Urresti family, called Tiffany “a dynamic woman who did a lot.”
She cited Urresti’s long commitment to fire service and the goals she met in becoming a registered nurse, gaining her bachelor of science degree in nursing and becoming a flight nurse.
A memorial service for Urresti is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Elko Convention Center. In lieu of flowers the family suggested donating to a Legacy Scholarship that has been set up in her name at Elko High School.
Jake Shepherd was a paramedic for Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele County, Utah.
Lt. Ray Clinton with the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office told Fox13 News that Shepherd lived in Logan and commuted to work. He leaves behind a wife and three children, according to KUTV News in Salt Lake City.
His friend Travis Allred said Shepherd died “doing what he loved, being a flight paramedic for American Medflight.”
Allred set up a GoFundMe page to help Shepherd’s family.
Yuji Irie, 63, was a Japanese immigrant to the United States, according to American Medflight. A statement from the company said “He wanted to fly his entire life, and never stopped in pursuit of his passion. Indeed, he became a skilled aviator and had saved hundreds of lives over a long career at American Medflight. He was based in Ely, Nevada, the toughest base for inclement weather in the American Medflight system. Despite the fact that Ely often experiences some of the most challenging weather conditions in the lower 48 states, Captain Irie was always ready to fly patients to urban medical centers where they could receive life saving care. His skill as a pilot far exceeded even the best of aviators.”
John Burruel, American Medflight’s president and CEO, remembered Irie as someone who was unstoppable:
“I’ve always said that if I had 50 Yujis, this company would be unstoppable and we’d achieve anything we set out to do. He had the best work ethic I’ve ever seen and he cared for people with endless energy and compassion.”
Capt. Irie held an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and a First Class Medical Certificate. He dreamed of building his own aircraft and someday flying it back to Japan.