BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A medical helicopter that was based in Maryland and was on its way from a Chambersburg, Pennsylvania hospital to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia crash landed in the suburb of Drexel Hill, Delaware County, Pennsylvania authorities said Tuesday.
All four passengers, including a 2-month-old girl, a nurse, the pilot and a crew member, suffered non-life threatening injuries after the helicopter went down for a hard landing just outside the Drexel Hill United Methodist Church church in the 600 block of Burmont Road, according to police and firefighters in Upper Darby Township.
Both the pilot and the infant are in stable condition, said Upper Darby Fire Chief Derrick Sawyer.
Town officials said it was “a miracle” the pilot was able to make a hard landing in the densely populated area without any injuries to the passengers and people on the ground, and without damaging any property.
“Obviously, this pilot had great command of the helicopter and was able to land it safely, and took the best interests of the community at hand to make sure there were no injuries and no property damage,” Sawyer told CBS3 in Philadelphia.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt said about 12:57 p.m. authorities started receiving reports of a helicopter in distress near Route 1.
Calls continued to come in as the helicopter started to drop over Burmont Road, Bernhardt said.
State Rep. Mike Zabel said he heard the helicopter coming down from about four blocks away.
“Me and many of my neighbors ran out to find that sound, track it down, expecting the worst,” he said.
First responders arrived at the scene about 1:10 p.m. The occupants were able to leave the wreckage without assistance, so fire crews worked to contain leaking fuel and checked the church for structural damage, Sawyer said.
The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services said the helicopter, based out of Hagerstown, picked up a pediatric patient in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania before flying toward Philadelphia.
IAFF Local 2493 said crews from five townships near the site of the crash landing responded to the scene.
“Our utmost respect goes out to the pilot/crew of the helicopter, as all of them continued to provide care and direction for their patient and for their fellow crew members, despite their own injuries,” the union said in a Facebook post.
The infant passenger was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the three crew members were taken to Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.
“Following the crash of a medical helicopter transporting a young patient to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, we want to express our sincere gratitude to the pilot and first responders for their swift and heroic efforts in safely evacuating all those on-board,” said Madeline Bell, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Our thoughts and support are with all those involved in today’s accident and their families.”
A spokesperson with WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital confirmed the helicopter was called to the facility to transport a pediatric patient.
“Our hearts go out to family and crew on board and we are grateful that early reports indicate the patient and crew survived and that the patient was transported on to the planned hospital by ground transport,” said Ryan Coyle, media relations manager for WellSpan Health.
The owner of the helicopter, Air Methods, an air medical services operator with more than 300 bases across the country, said in a statement the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the incident.
“Our team will cooperate fully with their efforts to assess the cause of this unfortunate accident,” said Doug Flanders, vice president of communications at Air Methods. “Privacy rights with regards to those on board the aircraft will be honored, and we will not be sharing any additional information.”
Maryland Medical Helicopter Traveling To Philadelphia Crash Lands; All 4 Occupants, Including Infant, Suffer Minor Injuries, Authorities Say