ELKO – A candlelight vigil begins at 7:30 p.m. today in Angel Park for the victims of Friday night's American Medflight plane crash.
The Air Medical Memorial will honor pilot Yuji Irie, paramedic Jake Shepherd, nurse Tiffany Urresti and patient Edward Clohesey.
Clohesey was a miner who was planning to retire soon, and Urresti was an Elko woman who got her “dream” job with American Medflight just a few weeks ago and was engaged to be married to the assistant director of Elko’s airport.
The four were killed when an American Medflight plane crashed into the Barrick Gold Corp. parking lot around 7:30 p.m., setting off a series of explosions and destroying vehicles but harming no one on the ground.
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.
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.
Yuji's family was involved in travel and tourism. As a young man, he worked so hard that he often had little time to pursue his passion as an aviator. As soon as he had the chance in middle age, Yuji learned to fly and quickly built up his talent for aviation. He even bought a small airliner as a younger man in hopes of providing air tours for his travel and tourism business.
Having realized the huge financial obligations of owning an air carrier, Yuji eventually sold his airplane and went to work flying for others. He worked for several aircraft charter companies from Las Vegas all the way to the Mariana Islands in the South Pacific.
Captain Irie found his true life calling at American Medflight. He always was ready to go save a life and always found a way to safely transport his patients and medical crew regardless of the challenges he faced. He often noted that he wanted to finish his entire professional career as a pilot at American Medflight.
John Burruel, American Medflight's President and CEO, remembered Yuji as someone who was unstoppable.
"I've always said that if I had 50 Yuji's, 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, making him the most highly qualified pilot from both an airman certification and medical evaluation standpoint. He dreamed of building his own aircraft and someday flying it back to Japan. He began on this journey years ago, and his dream aircraft still sits in the garage of his son's home in Las Vegas ... waiting for that incredible flight across the Pacific to Japan.