Weather blamed in helicopter mishap

Monday, December 20, 2004

A company that provides helicopters to hospitals including Storm Lake;s says the weather caused a Mercy Air Care chopper to clip some power lines near Sioux City last month.

The pilot, who was flying alone, was returning to Sioux City from an accident scene on November 26 when he snagged the power lines along U.S. 20 between Moville and Lawton.

Mike Allen, operations manager at Air Methods Corp. of Denver, which provides Mercy Air Care with its aircraft, pilots and mechanics, said weather conditions rapidly deteriorated during the 30-minute period the air ambulance was in flight.

"The pilot made a good attempt to avoid the weather and subsequently hit the lines," Allen said.

No one was injured during the incident, but two static lines, used to ground power for safety, and the tops of two power poles were damaged, according to Western Area Power Administration.

The helicopter was slightly damaged and is undergoing repairs that are expected to be completed in January, Allen said.

Air Methods has supplied Mercy with a substitute helicopter until repairs are completed.

Mercy Air Care flies with a 150-mile radius of Sioux City. The average flight is above 60 miles and the averge flight time is approximately 30 minutes.

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