The pilot of a medical helicopter that crashed in heavy fog, killing a young patient and two medical workers, may have been trying to head for an airport southwest of town, officials said.

The Bell Long Ranger Model 206L crashed in a muddy soybean field before dawn Thursday, killing James Rhodes, 7, who had suffered a broken neck in Marion, Ill., hours earlier and was being airlifted to St. Francis Hospital.Also killed were flight nurse Karen Scherer, 26, and respiratory therapist Julie Huttegger, 22.

Pilot Sheldon Rudzek, 39, was in stable condition today at St. Francis, hospital officials said.