Saturday, March 26, 2016

Aerospatiale AS 350B2, N911GF, Haynes LifeFlight: Fatal accident occurred March 26, 2016 in Goodman, Coffee County, Alabama

FULL VIDEO: Memorial service honoring fallen Life Flight crew

TROY, AL (WSFA) -  On Thursday, March 31, 2016, a memorial service was held for Stasi Cernadas, Chad Hammond and Jason Snipes, the three first responders killed in a medical helicopter crash in Coffee County on Saturday.

The service was held at Troy University and was organized by The Honor Network, an organization that conducts memorial services honoring fallen heroes. The event was conducted by Haynes Life Flight, the City of Troy Fire Department,  the City of Troy Police Department and the Troy University Police Department.

Special guest speakers at the memorial were Phillip Winningham and Corey Pittman, NREMTP.  Special statements were presented from U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. The program included remarks by Chris Heisler, Founder of the U.S. Honor Flag and President of The Honor Network, Troy City Mayor Jason Reeves, Kirk Barrett, President and COO of Haynes Ambulance of Alabama, and Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. of Troy University.

Full video:   http://www.wtvm.com






Date:  26-MAR-16
Time:  05:58:00Z
Regis#:  N911GF
Aircraft Make:  EUROCOPTER
Aircraft Model:  AS355
Event Type:  Accident
Highest Injury:  Fatal
Damage:  Destroyed
Flight Phase:  UNKNOWN (UNK)
City:  GOODMAN
State:  Alabama
Country:  United States

AIRCRAFT CRASHED SHORTLY AFTER TAKEOFF. GOODMAN, AL

HAYNES LIFE FLIGHT LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N911GF

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.


Flight medic Jason Snipes


The victims in the March 26, 2016 Haynes Lifeflight crash, clockwise, are: Chad Hammond, Stacey Cernadas, Zach Strickland and Jason Snipes. 



State troopers blocked traffic on County Road 615 on Saturday, March 26, 2016, as rains saturated area. The road is more than 500 yards from the site of a Haynes Life Flight helicopter crash that took the lives of a pilot, flight nurse, medic and patient early that morning.

"The FAA inspector showed up on scene and started his part of the investigation. The NTSB investigators arrived in the area Saturday night,” said Larry Walker, director of the Coffee County Emergency Management Agency.

The investigation continues as Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board workers comb through the wreckage.

"We'd like to offer our condolences to the friends and families of the victims of this tragic accident,” said Todd Gunther, the lead investigator with the NTSB.”

The crash happened minutes after takeoff near County Road 606, where the flight crew was attempting to transport car accident victim Zach Strickland to a hospital.

"As far as we know, all of the flight controls on the helicopter were functional at the time. We also have no evidence of any type of structural failure of the helicopter,” Gunther said. “There were some areas that were low-visibility, and from our understanding, were about a half a mile visibility or lower, and that's something that our meteorologists are looking at.”

Today, investigators were hauling debri from the crash site in the woods to a nearby backyard, where they will do a 2-D reconstruction over the next three to five days, before transporting it to a Georgia facility for further investigation.

"We're currently conducting witness interviews. We're also looking at the EMS on the aircraft, the structure of the aircraft, the weather conditions with the aircraft, and we're also looking at the physiology of the pilot and flight crew that was on board,” said Gunther.s

A preliminary report is expected within 10 days, and it could take up to a year before the NTSB issues a statement of probable cause.

Story, video and photo gallery: http://www.dothanfirst.com



This is the helipad at Troy Regional where the helicopter that crashed took off from Friday night.


Several weeks ago, flight medic Jason Snipes responded to a crash and did what he did – airlifted a woman to Southeast Alabama Medical Center to get the help she needed for her injuries.

But Snipes didn't stop there. When a GoFundMe account was later set up for the victim, Snipes visited that page, where he left words of encouragement for the woman. "I offer my prayers to you, her and your family,'' Snipes wrote. "If I may offer a verse that has helped me throughout my life, that is HEB 11:1 – Faith is the substance of all things hoped for but not yet seen. Maintain your faith. It will move mountains."

When he was called a hero for his efforts, Snipes gave credit where he thought credit was due. "I'm not a hero...God does his work through my hands."

"That's just the kind of person he was,'' said Kyle McDonnell, operations manager for Regional Paramedical Services of Alabama, where Snipes used to work. "He was just a very compassionate person."

Snipes, 34, was one of four people killed the weekend crash of a Haynes LifeFlight helicopter in southeast Alabama early Saturday. The others killed were: pilot Chad Hammond, 29; nurse Stacey Cernadas, 38, and patient Zach Strickland, 27.

The chopper crashed in Saturday's predawn hours in Goodman, about 80 miles south of Montgomery – after picking up Strickland from the scene of a highway crash.

"The weather was described as inclement, foggy," said Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board. "We will be getting more specifics about visibility and the weather conditions the helicopter would have been encountering."

The aircraft was found in a heavily wooded and marshy area, and the plan Monday was to recover the wreckage from the remote area, Knudson said.

"Once they are able to get the helicopter to dry, higher ground, they will work on documenting the components of the wreckage," he said.

The helicopter had been called after a motorist struck a ditch and a utility pole in a one-car vehicle crash about 11 p.m. Friday, Trooper Kevin Cook was quoted by the Dothan Eagle as saying. The helicopter took off with the motorist, and was reported missing at 12:17 a.m. Saturday. The wreckage was later discovered about a half-mile from the scene of the vehicle crash, the newspaper reported.

Metro Aviation Inc. of Shreveport, Louisiana, which operated the helicopter for an Alabama ambulance company, issued a statement Monday saying that the company "places safety at the top of our priority list" and that a company response team is assisting federal authorities with the investigation.

It will likely take several months or as much as a year or longer for the NTSB to determine the cause of the crash, Knudson said.

The pilot, 29-year-old Hammond, was a husband, father and son. He joined Metro Aviation in October 2015, and previously was an instructor at Cloud 9 Helicopters in Florida. He attended George C. Wallace State Community College, and was a 2005 graduate of Eufaula High School. Just three years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration recognized Hammond with inclusion in the FAA Airmen Certification Database. According to the website, the certification is for pilots who have met or exceeded the high educational, licensing and medical standards established by the FAA.

Cernadas, 38, had been a flight nurse since September. Born in Huntsville but raised in Georgia, she was also a trauma nurse in Montgomery and a former flight attendant. Her father, Javier Cernadas, told WAFF in Huntsville, was living out her dream to be a flight nurse. "Stacey had a larger than life personality and had many, many friends all around the U.S.,'' her father told the television station Saturday. "I can tell you that while we are extremely saddened by today's events, we are immensely proud of Stacey. She loved more than anything being a flight nurse and helping those in critical need."

Snipes was previously a supervisor with RPS and based in Shelby County. McDonnell said he was an outstanding paramedic, especially to be so young. "To be as young as he was, he was a great paramedic. They usually come out of school scared or thinking they know everything, but not Jason. He was a sponge. He was pretty impressive, really."

Snipes left RPS to eventually join Haynes. "He was always wanting to fly,'' McDonnell said. "That's been a dream of his for quite some time."

"He often contacted his patients afterward,'' he said. "He cared for every patient he picked up. This is just heartbreaking."

Strickland – the patient – was almost home when he was involved in the car crash that ultimately led to him being on the rescue helicopter. Close friend Mike Shroades said Strickland owned about 20 to 40 acres and was less than 500 feet from turning on to his property when the crash happened. After inheriting money from his grandparents, he had bought his parents a home and moved into a double-wide he put out back.

"He would bend over backwards to help anybody," Shroades said. He said it was several years ago that Strickland saved Shroades' life following a dirt bike accident. Strickland told him he needed to go to the hospital, but Shroades said he was being hard-headed and resisted. "He threw me in the truck and drove 110 miles per hour for hours to get me to a hospital,'' he said. "When we got there, they told me I would have been dead in 30 more minutes. I give all the respect I can to him for saving my life."

Strickland, he said, didn't live fancy or dress fancy but probably owned more than 120 cars. "He loved cars, trucks, four-wheelers, he loved it all,'' Shroades said. "He lived life to the fullest."

Shroades said the two were close, and Strickland was well-known in the small community. "Everybody knew Zach,'' he said. "Behind all of the tattoos was nothing but a big heart. I am devastated."

Haynes Ambulance of Alabama issued this statement: "Words cannot explain the hurt that the Haynes LifeFlight/Ambulance is feeling. We would like to thank everyone for their support during these difficult times. It is truly heart-warming. Please continue to keep the families in your prayers as they have suffered tremendous loss. Godspeed Chad, Stacey, Jason, Zach. You're gone but will never be forgotten. You have earned your wings, now wear them proudly."


Story, video and photo: http://www.al.com

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board spent most of Monday recovering the wreckage of a downed air ambulance helicopter. An early-morning crash Saturday in Coffee County killed three Haynes Air Ambulance crew members and a patient. 

NTSB spokesperson Peter Knudson said Monday that investigators will likely spend Tuesday examining the crash components in an attempt to determine the factors that may have led to Saturday’s crash.

According to reports, Haynes Air Ambulance responded to an automobile accident after 11 p.m. Friday on Coffee County Road 606, near the Goodman community west of Enterprise. The automobile accident victim was unconscious and suffering from a broken leg. The downed helicopter was found near the intersection of County roads 615 and 616, about ½ mile from the site of the automobile wreck.

The NTSB issues two investigative reports. A preliminary report is issued a relatively short time after the incident and includes observable findings based on what investigators initially observe at the scene, or gather from other sources. Knudson said Monday that a preliminary report on the Haynes crash should be issued next week. A final report based on a deeper look at the aircraft components, interviews, tests and other data could take several months or more than a year.

It is currently unknown whether poor weather conditions contributed to the accident.

In 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration required helicopter operators, including air ambulances, to have stricter flight rules and procedures regarding weather, improved communications and training, and additional on-board safety equipment in response to a large number of air ambulance crashes over the previous 20 years.

The FAA examined helicopter air ambulance crashes from 1991 to 2010 and determined 62 accidents that resulted in 125 fatalities could have been “mitigated” by the enhanced rules approved in 2014. From 2011 through 2013, there were seven air ambulance accidents resulting in 19 fatalities.

The FAA identified four common factors in the accidents — inadvertent flight into conditions where weather caused the pilot to be unable to see and rely on instruments, loss of control, controlled flight into terrain, and night conditions.

Among other requirements, the rule specifies certain weather thresholds and visibility requirements, requires flight planning and pre-flight risk analysis, safety briefings for medical personnel and the establishment of operations control centers for certain operators. It also requires air ambulances to be equipped with a flight data monitoring system as well as a radio altimeter to assist pilots in determining height above ground.

The rule also requires helicopter air ambulance operators to conduct a preflight risk analysis that includes characteristics of the planned flight path, weather conditions, and if the flight has been rejected by another operator. Air ambulance operators may ask the dispatching agency if the flight has been rejected by another operator.

Weather conditions were reported as overcast with possible fog in the area near the approximate time of the crash.

According to the weather reporting station at the Andalusia Airport, several miles west of the crash site, visibility varied from as much as 10 miles to as little as ½ mile in the late night hours of Friday and the early morning hours of Saturday due to fog. The weather conditions at the site of the vehicle accident or helicopter crash are not currently known. A detailed weather summary is expected in the NTSB preliminary report.

Original article can be found here: http://www.dothaneagle.com

Coffee County Deputy EMA Director James Brown confirms that four people were killed in a Haynes Lifeflight helicopter crash late Friday night in rural Coffee County.
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A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said preliminary information shows weather conditions were foggy, with low visibility, at the time a Haynes Life Flight Eurocopter AS350 crashed Saturday after responding to a vehicle wreck in Coffee County. 

Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers said the following were killed in the crash: Metro Aviation rotor wing pilot Chad Hammond, 29, of Eufaula, Haynes Ambulance critical care nurse Stacey Cernadas, 38, of Montgomery, Haynes Ambulance critical care medic Jason Snipes, 35, of Chilton County, and patient Zachary Strickland, 28, of Enterprise.

NTSB is the lead investigator of the medical helicopter incident. According to NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson, the aircraft may have crashed sometime around 2 a.m. Saturday when weather conditions were foggy and there was low visibility.

He said an official cause of the crash could take a year to be determined, though an initial report might be completed within the next two weeks.

“The area is heavily wooded and swampy, so we’re working to get equipment to the scene to move the helicopter to higher ground,” Knudson said Sunday.

He said NTSB’s focus on Sunday was identifying how the aircraft came to rest, as well as speaking with witnesses and further identifying the weather conditions at the time of the crash.

Authorities said Saturday the aircraft was responding to a one-vehicle wreck around 11 p.m. Friday on Coffee County Road 606, also known as College Street Extension, near the Goodman Community.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency spokesman, Trooper Kevin Cook, stated the vehicle, which Strickland was driving, struck a ditch and then a utility pole. Strickland was reportedly unconscious and suffered a broken leg from the vehicle crash.

A complete vehicle crash report is expected to be released later.

Authorities said Saturday the Life Flight that retrieved Strickland from the scene of the vehicle incident was reported missing around 12:17 a.m. Saturday. 

Authorities discovered the aircraft downed around 7:02 a.m. Saturday near the intersection of Coffee County roads 615 and 616, which was about a half-mile from where the vehicle wreck took place.

Knudson said the aircraft was operated by Metro Aviation. According to its website, Metro Aviation is based in Louisiana and provides operations services, including pilots and maintenance technicians, for aircraft that respond to emergency scene calls and inter-hospital transfers.

The company operates 130 aircraft for more than 30 programs in 18 states, according to its website.

Metro Aviation spokesperson Karen King issued this statement Sunday when contacted by the Dothan Eagle:

“Metro Aviation places safety at the top of our priority list and our response team is in Alabama to assist the FAA and NTSB with the investigation. Our hearts and prayers are with everyone involved in the accident, including family and friends of those we lost.”

Several social media posts online from agencies and from people referred to those who died Saturday.

The Opp News quoted on Facebook on Saturday the biblical scripture on faith, Hebrews 11:1, as one Snipes had messaged to a mother whose daughter was involved in a crash to which Snipes responded on a Life Flight some weeks ago.

Several of Strickland’s Facebook friends offered condolences to him, describing him as a loving father who was fascinated with cars. Hammond was identified on posts as a loving husband and father, and Cernadas was noted for fun spirit.

Haynes Ambulance of Alabama posted the following statement on Facebook on Sunday:

“…Words cannot explain the hurt that the HaynesLifeflight/ambulance are feeling. We would like to thank everyone for their support during these difficult times it is truly heart warming. Please continue to keep the families in your pray(er)s as they have suffered a tremendous loss. Godspeed.”

Original article can be found here: http://www.dothaneagle.com


COFFEE CO., AL (WSFA) -  A Haynes medical helicopter crew and a patient were killed in a crash early Saturday morning in Coffee County.

Coffee County EMA Deputy Director James Brown confirmed there were four people aboard the helicopter. The crash happened after the three crew members picked up a patient from a single-vehicle accident on Coffee County Road 606.

The EMA identified the victims as Chad Hammond, Pilot; Stacey Cernadas, Flight Nurse; Jason Snipes, Flight Medic; and Zach Strickland, patient.

The victims will be transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Montgomery.

Brown said the helicopter went missing in a wooded area in Coffee County around 12:17 a.m. Saturday. The crash scene was found just after 7 a.m. The scene is on County Road 615 near County Road 603 in the Goodman Community.

Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the crash.

A Federal Aviation Administration team from Birmingham arrived on the scene early Saturday afternoon. The National Transportation Safety Board is the lead investigating agency and is scheduled to arrive later Saturday.

According to Troy Mayor Jason Reeves, the helicopter was based at Troy Regional Medical Center.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the crew and patient who lost their lives as well as the hundreds of staff and first responders who work with Haynes hand-in-hand across the region,."  Reeves said in a statement. "This is a devastating loss for our community and many others in the area. We will continue to pray for those grieving this loss and those who place their lives in harms way daily to keep our communities safe."

Troy Regional Medical Center CEO Teresa Grimes said the hospital is saddened by the tragic loss.

"We will be in prayer for their families as well as the Haynes Ambulance and Flight staff," Grimes said in a statement.

The Alabama Red Cross is supporting the crew who responded to the crash scene.

Haynes Life Flight expanded to Troy in October, adding a helicopter and base at Troy Regional Medical Center to support 10 south Alabama counties.

The company has another helicopter based in the Wetumpka area.

Original article can be found here: http://www.wsfa.com

COFFEE COUNTY – Days could pass before final reports are complete on a medical ambulance helicopter crash that reportedly claimed the lives of three flight staff and a patient who was being transported in the helicopter.

Authorities said a Haynes Life Flight Aerospatiale AS50 helicopter that departed from Troy to respond to a single-vehicle crash on Coffee County Road 606, also known as College Street Extension, near the Goodman Community, was reported missing around 12:17 a.m. after retrieving an unconscious patient with a broken leg from a vehicle wreck to transport to Baptist Medical Center in Montgomery.

The aircraft was discovered downed around 7:02 a.m. Saturday near the intersection of Coffee County roads 615 and 616 in the Goodman Community, about a half-mile from where the vehicle wreck took place. Coffee County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director James Brown said the aircraft appears to have gone down within three minutes of retrieving the patient.

Brown said a rotor wing pilot, critical care nurse, critical care medic and the local patient were believed aboard the crashed aircraft.

Neither the names of the flight staff, nor of the patient, had been released late Saturday afternoon.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Capt. Tracy Nelson said the aircraft crashed in a heavily wooded area that, when coupled with rainfall throughout Saturday, challenged recovery efforts of both the aircraft and of those individuals who died in the crash. Local and state officials used resources such as bulldozers to assist in reaching the crash’s site, and ALEA reported all bodies had been recovered as of Saturday afternoon.

Brown said heavy fog hampered the ability to immediately send other aircraft early Saturday to search for the downed helicopter, but that authorities implemented a four-mile search area on the ground before discovering the aircraft about a half-mile from where the vehicle wreck was.

The cause of the aircraft accident was not available on Saturday. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration were expected in the area on Saturday and Sunday for an investigation, which an FAA spokesperson stated will be headed by the NTSB. According to reports listed on NTSB’s website, some preliminary reports on other incidents appeared to have been released between a few days and a couple months after NTSB investigations.

An NTSB official had not responded late Saturday afternoon on when the local crash report might be available.

Nelson believed the vehicle wreck happened around 11 p.m. Saturday. He said final reports were in the process of being completed on the vehicle wreck on Saturday.

Haynes, a family-owned, central Alabama service that expanded into helicopter emergency medical services in 2014 in Wetumpka, opened another Life Flight base at Troy Regional Medical Center's helipad in October.


Original article can be found here: http://www.dothaneagle.com

COFFEE CO., AL (WSFA) -  A Haynes medical helicopter crew and a patient were killed in a crash overnight in Coffee County.

Coffee County EMA Deputy Director James Brown confirmed there were four people aboard the helicopter. The crash happened after the three crew members picked up a patient from an auto accident.

Brown said the helicopter went missing in a wooded area in Coffee County around 12:17 a.m. Saturday. The crash scene was found just after 7 a.m. The scene is on County Road 615 near County Road 603 in the Goodman Community.

Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the crash.

A Federal Aviation Administration team from Birmingham arrived on the scene early Friday afternoon. The National Transportation Safety Board is the lead investigating agency and is scheduled to arrive later Saturday.

According to Troy Mayor Jason Reeves, the helicopter was based at Troy Regional Medical Center.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the crew and patient who lost their lives as well as the hundreds of staff and first responders who work with Haynes hand-in-hand across the region,."  Reeves said in a statement. "This is a devastating loss for our community and many others in the area. We will continue to pray for those grieving this loss and those who place their lives in harms way daily to keep our communities safe."

Troy Regional Medical Center CEO Teresa Grimes said the hospital is saddened by the tragic loss.

"We will be in prayer for their families as well as the Haynes Ambulance and Flight staff," Grimes said in a statement.

The Alabama Red Cross is supporting the crew who responded to the crash scene.

Haynes Life Flight expanded to Troy in October, adding a helicopter and base at Troy Regional Medical Center to support 10 south Alabama counties.

The company has another helicopter based in the Wetumpka area.

Original article can be found here: http://www.wsfa.com

COFFEE COUNTY – A recovery effort is underway today after a Haynes Lifeflight helicopter crashed early this morning, killing all four people onboard.

James Brown, deputy director of the Coffee County Emergency Management Agency, said the helicopter was reported missing at 12:17 a.m.

“After an extensive search, the aircraft was discovered at 7:02 this morning,” he said. “There were four people on board, and unfortunately all were lost.”

Kirk Barrett of Haynes Ambulance declined to comment. “This is a horrible tragedy. We are just concentrating on the families right now,” he said.

Brown said the helicopter crashed in a deeply wooded area in the Goodman Community. “It’s something nobody would want to happen to anybody,” he said. “It’s bad situation.”

The helicopter was based at Troy Regional Medical Center and had been dispatched to the scene of a motor vehicle accident in Coffee County.

“They picked up a patient, from what I understand he had a broken leg and was unconscious,” Brown said.

The helicopter was enroute to Montgomery when the crash occurred. “We don’t really know what happened,” Brown said, adding the crash was “very soon after takeout, within three minutes.”

He said he would not speculate on what could have caused the crash.

“We did a four mile search. We figured that’s about how far they would be,” Brown said. “They were discovered about a half mile from the accident.”

Brown said the search began shortly after midnight, using helicopters; search teams; and triangulation through cell phone systems. “First responder safety is always our first concern. That’s why we had to wait a little bit to send up another helicopter to search because we had some fog last night,” he said.

Because the crash is in a heavily wooded area with limited access, Brown said the recovery effort could take a couple of days.

Brown said crews from the NTSB and FAA are enroute to the site. “They will take over the investigation when they arrive,” he said.

“The rain will slow us up a bit but don’t think it will stop up. If we do have lightning we will have to stop.”

Teresa Grimes, CEO of Troy Regional where the Lifeflight was based, said the hospital staff were saddened and shocked.

“The Troy Regional Medical Center family is saddened today by the tragic loss of the Haynes helicopter crew members and the patient being transferred,” she said. “We will be in prayer for their families as well as the Haynes ambulance and flight staff.”

Original article can be found here: http://www.troymessenger.com

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