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NTSB: Plenty Of Blame To Go Around For Medevac Crash

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Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have determined the cause of a Medevac helicopter crash in District Heights that killed four people.

About a year ago, Jordan Wells, then 18, was driving through Charles County Maryland with a friend. There was a lot of fog, it was night time, and they crashed. A Medevac helicopter came and the two friends were whisked off into the night. "When I woke up I had to put two and two together, I realized I'd never made it to the hospital," said Wells. "When my eyes adjusted to the night, I realized I was laying in the woods."

The helicopter had crashed, killing Wells' friend, two medics, and the pilot. NTSB investigators now say the pilot didn't perform a weather risk assessment that might have canceled the flight.

"I cannot fathom why any hems operator wouldn't perform the written risk assessment, it's mind boggling," said NTSB chairman Debbie Hirsman. And, it had been nearly two years since the pilot had trained for the specific foggy conditions of that night. That's in part because Maryland State Police had slashed their training requirements.

"The tax payers of Maryland should be disappointed as well as those people requesting service," NTSB Board member Robert Sumwalt. Investigators lay blame too with air traffic controllers who provided weather conditions that were five hours old. And when the pilot asked for help landing, another controller said she wasn't qualified to give it.

But Hersman says there is good news. "Maryland state police have recognized many things in advance of us completing our accident investigation and have taken voluntary steps to address many of those issues," said Hershman.

Among those improvements: restoring training requirements and installing devices in its Medevac fleet that would warn pilots if they were getting too close to the ground.

Sabri Ben-Achour reports...

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