ELKO, Nev. — An air-ambulance plane appeared to lose power immediately after takeoff from the Elko Regional Airport before it crashed and burned, killing all four people on board, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.
One of the crew members, Jake Shepherd, was a paramedic with Mountain West Ambulance, a service of the Tooele County Emergency Medical Services.
Nurse Tiffany Urresti, of Elko, Nevada; pilot Yuji Irie, 63, originally of Las Vegas; and patient Edward Clohesey from Spring Creek, Nevada, also died in the crash.
The twin-engine aircraft bound for University Hospital in Salt Lake City on Nov. 18 was still making its initial climb about a half-mile from the runway when it turned left about 30 degrees and stopped climbing, the NTSB said in a preliminary accident report.
A witness told the NTSB the turbine-powered, Piper "Cheyenne II" operated by Reno-based American Medflight Inc. then made an abrupt left bank and descended out of his line of sight before crashing into a parking lot and bursting into flames.
Compressed medical gas bottles led to several secondary explosions after the crash, the NTSB said. Several vehicles in the parking lot were burned by the resulting fire, and the airplane was heavily damaged by flames.
All major structural components of the plane were located within the wreckage in the Barrick Gold Corp. parking lot near I-80, about 290 miles east of Reno, the NTSB said.
Detailed examinations of the airframe and engines are pending, and the cause of the crash remains under investigation. The NTSB indicated weather didn't play a role in the crash.