Rescuers Killed While Patient Survives
DEVORE, Calif. (AP) _ A medical evacuation helicopter taking an injured motorcyclist to a hospital crashed Sunday in a fog-shrouded mountain pass, killing the pilot and a nurse, authorities said.
The patient, the only other person aboard, survived, perhaps because he was strapped down in the aircraft’s midsection, said county fire Capt. Tom Andreas.
The helicopter hit a power line in Cajon Pass in the Lost Lake area of San Bernardino County, 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles, Andreas said.
″When the craft came down, it hit a rock wall and went over an embankment,″ Andreas said.
The pilot and nurse were identified as David Skala, 40, of Los Alamitos and Cheryl Collins, 40, of Hesperia, sheriff’s Deputy Paul Cook said. They were dead when rescuers arrived.
The injured motorcyclist, a 26-year-old man whose name was withheld until relatives could be contacted, was flown to San Bernardino County Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition, said a nursing supervisor who wouldn’t give her name.
″There were heavy clouds, fog and generally very bad weather in the pass,″ Andreas said.
The helicopter apparently was trying to turn around to avoid the fog when it crashed, said county sheriff’s Lt. Mike Stodelle.
The motorcyclist had suffered head and neck injuries in a crash in the Mojave Desert near Interstate 15 north of Victorville. Although Andreas said he had been strapped in, authorities found him ″sitting in a patch of sand in a creek bed″ near the downed craft, Stodelle said.
″He was alive, awake and incoherent,″ Stodelle said.
The helicopter was owned by Medical Air Transport of Riverside, where a spokesman said no information was available.