An early morning crash of Medical Center Hospital’s CareStar helicopter in Ward County has left four people dead and a fifth injured.
The helicopter – a Bell 407 – was enroute to University Medical Center Hospital in Lubbock from Big Bend Regional Hospital in Alpine. Communication with the helicopter was lost just after 2:00 a.m.
The crash site was located by a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter shortly after 6:00 a.m. near the intersection of FM Highway 1927 and County Road 36 in Ward County.
Reported killed in the crash are pilot Micky Price, 46, of Dumas, Texas; paramedic Paul Lujan, 32, of Odessa, Texas; patient Pedro Urias Modesto, 3 months, and his mother Ana Lillia Urias, both of Mexico.
A fifth occupant, registered nurse Ronald Stephens of Midland, was injured in the crash.
Medical helo crashes are both tragic and seemingly unavoidable. They fly at unscheduled times, over irregular routes, and sometimes in bad weather. The majority are single pilot operations, as cost control is important and helos constantly have to fight with weight and payload issues. Single pilot is a balanced risk: there is no guarantee that a second pilot would prevent any crash, but it seems logical that it would help sometimes.
Crashes like these are why most ED residencies stopped requiring residents to fly as part of the program, and why I always cringe a little when Doc Shazam writes about her latest flight.
Best wishes for Nurse Stephens, and condolences to all those who lost loved ones.