May 10, 2008 MADISON, Wis. - A medical helicopter dropped off a patient and then crashed shortly after it took off on its return flight to Madison, killing the surgeon, nurse and pilot on board, officials said Sunday.
The University of Wisconsin Hospital Med Flight crew went down about three miles from the La Crosse airport, from which they departed late Saturday, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said in a statement.
The wreckage was found early Sunday, and preliminary reports indicate the helicopter may have struck a hill or some trees, said Margaret Van Bree, the hospital's chief operating officer.
Killed were surgeon Darren Bean; nurse Mark Coyne, 53; and pilot Steve Lipperer, 39, she said. All three lived in Madison. Bean's age was not immediately available.
There were no concerns about the weather before the crew took off about 10:30 p.m.
"No further communication was received from the crew," Van Bree said.
The pilot was flying visually, not using instruments, at the time of the crash, said Med Flight director Mark Hanson. He did not know why.
The aircraft was a new American Eurocopter EC13 leased from Denver-based Air Methods beginning in August, Hanson said.
There were no reported mechanical problems with this particular aircraft or its model, said Mike Allen, senior vice president of hospital-based medical services for Air Methods.
The university system has grounded its other Med Flight helicopter, also leased from Air Methods, pending the investigation into the crash, Hanson said. If air service is needed while the helicopters are grounded other helicopters being used by other hospitals may be used, he said.
The university hospital system has had an air flight program since 1985. This was the first crash. On average there are about three or four flights a day, Hanson said. The average distance flown to pick up a patient is about 55 miles, he said.
Bean became a Med Flight physician for the hospital system in 2002. He also was the director of the city of Madison's EMT program and an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Coyne was a 22-year veteran of the Med Flight system and had worked for the hospital since 1981. He also was an emergency medical technician-paramedic.
Lipperer worked for Air Methods and was a contract employee for the hospital system since 2000.
"In our moments of greatest peril, our lives depend on the courageous work of Med Flight personnel," Gov. Jim Doyle said in a statement. "Dr. Darren Bean, Mark Coyne and Steve Lipperer dedicated themselves to rescuing people who faced the longest odds, and we owe them tremendous gratitude for their extraordinary service and dedication."
Lipperer, Steven H.\MADISON - Steven H. Lipperer, age 39, passed away on Saturday,May 10, 2008, as a result of injuries sustained in a MedFlight helicopter accident.
He was born on Sept. 17, 1968, in Fort Atkinson, the son ofRaymond and Diann Lipperer. A 1987 graduate of Jefferson High School,Steve completed his education at the Spartan School of Aeronautics andTechnology College in Tulsa, Okla.
Steve' s professional career was marked by adventure and travel. He piloted helicopters and fixed wing aircraft for 20 years, in various parts of the world, including Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. He loved aerobatic flying and spent time as a fire-fighting pilot as well. Since 2000, he was a Med Flight pilot for Air Methods Inc. at the University Hospital.He loved anything with speed and an engine, particularly motorcycles and Corvettes. He was a master chef and a lover of blues music. Most of all, he loved his family and friends. Steve was united in marriage to Desiree La Charite on July 28, 2007, in Madison. In addition to his wife, Desiree, he is survived by his parents, Raymond and Diann Lipperer; two brothers, Jeff (Jodi) Lipperer and their children,Corey and Nathan of Jefferson and Greg Lipperer of Jefferson; his in-laws,Raymond and Virginia (Gini) La Charite of Middleton; and a brother-in-law , Trey (Heather) La Charite and their children, Emma and Grace of Knoxville, Tenn. Steve will also be greatly missed by Nutmeg, theirloyal canine companion. Those wishing to join the family, services honoring the lives of Steven H. Lipperer and Dr. Darren B. Bean will be held held at 7 p.m. at the MONONA TERRACE, 1 John Nolen Drive, Madison, with seating at 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 15, 2008. In lieu of flowers,memorials may be made to the Dane County Humane Society, 5132 Voges Road, Madison, WI 53718-6941.
Steve Lipperer, Pilot
Hometown: Madison, WI
End of Service: May 10, 2008
Birth: September 17, 1968
EMS Service: Air Methods pilot operating for UW Med Flight.
LINE OF DUTY DEATH