ALAMOSA, Colo. The pilot of a medical plane that slammed into a mountainside on its way to pick up a patient had no record of accidents or violations in his 22 years of flying, his employer said Sunday.
Eagle Air Med Inc. pilot Ric Miller, 46, of Wenatchee, Wash., died in the crash along with 25-year-old flight nurse Ronnie Helton, of Birmingham, Ala., and 32-year-old flight paramedic Dana Dedman, of Chinle, Ariz., the company said.
The wreckage was found Friday in mountainous terrain just west of the Continental Divide near 11,677-foot high Charleys Peak in southern Colorado.
The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.
The crew had left Chinle at 10:35 p.m. Thursday in the twin-engine Beech King Air C-90A to pick up a patient in Alamosa, with Miller reporting an estimated arrival of 11:30 p.m. Around 11:45 p.m., when they failed to show up, Eagle Air Med began searching for the crew. It suspended all other flights.
Eagle Air Med said it was not clear what effect, if any, weather had on the crash, and that Miller had made no distress calls to the company's communications center.
It was the company's first fatal accident.
Miller held helicopter and fixed-wing pilot certificates and was airline transport pilot rated, the company said. He had more than 12,000 hours of logged flight time, including 2,400 hours with the U.S. Marine Corps reserve, Eagle Air Med said.
Helton had been an intensive care nurse for three years. Dedman had been employed with Eagle Air Med for more than two years and was a critical care paramedic for four years, the air ambulance service said.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
The company said its pilots receive detailed training when they are hired and annually. Crews are briefed on weather each morning and evaluate the weather before their flights, the company said.
Eagle Air Med is based in Blanding.