Long Pine, NE (near) Helicopter Crash, Dec 1985


Long Pine, Neb. (UPI) -- A medical helicopter on its way to pick up a critically injured boy crashed in snowy weather in a remote area, killing the pilot and two nurses, authorities said Saturday.
The 10-year-old Bell 206L helicopter crashed into a hill 20 miles south of Long Pine Friday, killing
pilot CRAIG BUDDEN, 32, and nurses JOAN BROWN, 28, and NANCY BRANDON, 32, all of Kearney. The bodies were taken Sunday to Kearney and authorities said an autopsy was performed on BUDDEN'S body.
Brown County Sheriff Don Brown and Tom Randall, owner of Liberty Air Inc. in Ainsworth, discovered the wreckage during an air search Saturday morning in a depression in the Sandhills 20 miles southeast of Ainsworth, Neb.
The helicopter was reported missing Friday night.
"It looked like it just dropped into it, like it might have dropped out of the sky," Brown said. "I would guess that they probably died instantly."
Randall said the Air Care helicopter "appeared to be upside down and twisted a little bit."
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were enroute to the site Saturday afternoon to determine the cause of the crash.
Brown said it may have been weather related, as snow and freezing rain were falling in the area about the time of the crash between 6:25 and 6:45 p.m. Friday.
"It appears like the helicopter was flying and possibly hit some severe weather," Brown said.
LeRoy Rheault, president of Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, said one of the nurses had been employed at the hospital for several years while the other had been working three to four months.
The pilot worked for Rogers Helicopter Service in Kearney. The hospital was leasing the helicopter from the service and the victim was one of two pilots that flew for the hospital.
"He'd made many flights," Rhealt said.
The three were enroute to Brown County Hospital in Ainsworth, Neb., to pick up Dion Quintant, aged 8, of Ainswirth, who suffered a skull fracture when he was hit by a car while sledding, Brown said.
The helicopter was to have flown the boy to Omaha, but he was taken to Childrens Hospital by ambulance when the helicopter did not arrive. He was in critical condition Saturday afternoon.
An Ainsworth doctor decided to call the Kearney hospital for a helicopter rather than Omaha because it would have taken an hour longer for a helicopter to arrive from Omaha, Brown said.
A Buffalo County sheriff's dispatcher said the Air Care helicopter departed Kearney at 6:05 p.m. and the pilot reported "everything was fine" at 6:25 p.m.

Logansport Pharos-Tribune Indiana 1985-12-22