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Pilot’s Body Recovered From Potomac River

January 13, 2005

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) _ Searchers on Wednesday recovered the body of the pilot whose medical helicopter crashed in the Potomac River after taking off from a hospital, authorities said.

The body of Joseph Schaefer, a 30-year veteran pilot, was found strapped in the pilot’s seat about 40 yards from where the aircraft hit the water Monday night, Maryland State Police Sgt. Rob Morone said. The front half of the helicopter and tail had been sheared off from the midsection

The crash also killed paramedic Nicole Kielar, whose body was found Tuesday. Flight nurse Jonathan Godfrey was in fair condition at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. No one else was aboard.

The helicopter had completed a drop-off at the Washington Hospital Center and was returning to its base in Stafford, Va., when it went down near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The span carries Interstate 95 between Maryland and Virginia, just south of the nation’s capital.

The National Transportation Safety Board was inspecting five massive cranes that line the Wilson Bridge and are being used to build a new span. One theory is that the helicopter struck a crane, NTSB investigator Jeff Guzzetti said.

It was the second deadly accident in less than a week for LifeNetAir Methods Corp. of Englewood, Colo. One of its helicopters crashed in Mississippi on Jan. 5, killing the pilot.

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