A former Richmond paramedic and firefighter was among the victims of a fiery medical plane crash in Elko, Nevada, on Friday night.
An air-ambulance plane taking a heart-disease patient to a Utah hospital crashed in a parking lot in northern Nevada, killing all four people aboard and sending up explosions and flames.
Three crew members and a patient were killed in the crash, Reno-based American Medflight said Saturday in a statement.
Identities were not officially released, but according to a Facebook post from Richmond Fire and EMS, one of those killed was Jake Shepherd, a former Richmond EMT/firefighter. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family.
Shepherd, a former in student in the EMS program at BATC, moved from Cache Valley to work as a paramedic in Tooele County. A friend of his who set up the GoFundMe page said Shepherd died “doing what he loved, being a flight paramedic for American Medflight.”
Another victim, 29-year-old Tiffany Urresti, was identified by her parents, Debbi and Jim Urresti of Elko. They said she was a former hospital ER nurse who dreamed for years of working as a flight nurse.
Urresti achieved her dream, starting work for American Medflight two months ago, and she was engaged to be married in May, Debibi Urresti said. “She found the love of her life.”
The twin-engine plane crashed in a mining company’s parking lot near a casino and other businesses near Elko Regional Airport and Interstate 80.
Medflight President John Burruel said in a statement that the company was cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration as they investigated the crash.
“As an air medical family, we are mourning the loss of our crewmembers and patient. Their families have been notified and they are in our thoughts and prayers,” Burruel said.
Elko authorities did not immediately respond to email and phone requests for comment, but Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said nobody on the ground was hurt.
“There was not a lot left of the aircraft,” Elko Fire Chief Matt Griego said after the flames were extinguished.
A photograph published by the Elko Daily Free Press showed mostly burned wreckage on pavement in front of a line of vehicles, including at least one charred pickup. The plane’s tail was one of the few recognizable parts.
Dr. Rodney Badger of Northeastern Nevada Cardiology told the Daily Free Press that the plane had just taken off from the nearby airport to transport a patient to the University of Utah Medical Center.
Badger said his patient suffered from coronary artery disease and was experiencing chest pains and rapid heartbeat around 5:30 p.m., after which the decision was made to transport him to Utah.
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