Sept. 8 (UPI) — Four people were killed in a Duke University Health System helicopter crash in North Carolina just before noon on Friday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Eurocopter MBB-BK model crashed at about 11:30 a.m. as the Duke Life Flight helicopter was headed back to Duke Medical Center from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, WTVD reported.
“With deep sorrow we can confirm that a Duke Life Flight helicopter crashed early this afternoon near Belvedere, North Carolina,” Duke Health officials said in a statement. “We are in the process of directly confirming information related to this incident and will share more information as it becomes available.”
Sentara Albemarle hospital spokeswoman Annya Soucy told the News and Observer that the helicopter was transporting a patient in need of an inter-hospital transfer to Duke.
She added that while similar taxi flights occur regularly, they aren’t common between Sentara Albemarle hospital and Duke.
Soucy said “there were no reports there were any issues” before the helicopter took off and authorities are unsure what caused the crash.
The sheriff’s office has not revealed the identities of those involved, but Soucy said hospital staff “have been in contact with the patient’s family.”
“Heartfelt thoughts and prayers for all families affected by this tragic incident,” Durham County Emergency Management Director Jim Groves said. “The response community in Durham is saddened.”