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Medical copter crash near Compton kills 3

Posted: Tuesday, Dec 11th, 2012

Emergency personnel sift through the wreckage of a helicopter in a field near Compton.

COMPTON - Two nurses and a pilot aboard a Rockford Health System REACT helicopter were killed at approximately 8:30 p.m. Dec. 10 when their aircraft crashed in a field southwest of Route 251 and U.S. 30 near Compton. The crew was en route to pick up a patient at Mendota Community Hospital when the accident occurred. There were no patients aboard the helicopter at the time of the crash.

Laura Maher, marketing and public relations at Rockford Health System, identified those killed as pilot Andy Olesen, and flight nurses Jim Dillow, R.N. and Karen Hollis, R.N.

The helicopter reportedly encountered unspecified bad weather and had intended to head back to Rockford when the crash occurred. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

According to RHS, Dillow, 40, joined Rockford Memorial Hospital in 1996. He was an experienced critical care nurse and emergency room nurse and had more than 10 years of experience as a flight nurse.

Hollis, 48, began her career at Rockford Memorial Hospital in 1986 and worked as a critical care nurse. She held leadership positions as a Clinical Resource Coordinator and a Trauma Nurse Coordinator and had more than 10 years of experience as a flight nurse.

Olesen, 65, was employed by Air Methods, RHS's contracted provider of aircraft services. He was an experienced pilot when he began flying for Air Methods in 1994 and had been a pilot for REACT for about five years.

A press release issued by RHS shortly after the accident stated: "At Rockford Health System, our hearts are heavy. We grieve the loss of three heroes who dedicated their careers to serving others...Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our three fallen crew members."

Lee County Sheriff John Varga held a press conference late Monday night, indicating that authorities received a phone call prior to the crash about a possible distressed aircraft flying low to the ground.

For the complete article see the 12-12-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-12-2012 paper.

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