BOTH people killed in a Mercy Flight helicopter crash Tuesday afternoon have been identified.
Mercy Flight Pilot James Sauer died along with Bell Helicopter Flight instructor Stewart M. Dietrick in the accident that occurred around 1:00pm today.
“It goes without saying that our attention needs to be focused on the families of those lost and on our own employees as we deal with this unspeakable tragedy,” said Mercy Flight President Margaret Ferrentino.
“This is a very dark day for the Mercy Flight family, we are so grateful for the expressions of love, concern and support expressed by many.”
Operations at Mercy Flight will be temporarily suspended, to give employees time to process the tragedy, said Executive Vice President Scott Wooton.
“The Mercy Flight Communications Center will remain operational and will refer any request to other area resources who are standing by to assist,” he added.
Sauer was a retired New York State Police Pilot. He began working with Mercy Flight in October 2020.
The 60-year-old was from Churchville, New York. A member of the National Guard, he began his military career in 1979.
He retired from the military in September 2020. Sauer was honored with a traditional “final flight” in Rochester.
Sauer accrued more than 6,100 hours of aviation time between his military and civilian careers.
Dietrick, 60, was from Prosper, Texas.
The crash happened during a training exercise in the town of Elba, in upstate New York. The helicopter took off from the Genesee County Airport for a training mission, according to New York State Major Eugene Staniszewski.
State troopers responded to the scene at about 1pm on Tuesday.
Footage from the scene shows that the aircraft crashed on the side of Norton road.
The cause of the crash remains unknown, according to New York state police. There were only two passengers on board, per authorities.
A police investigation is underway.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will assist.
Mercy Flight is an independent provider of emergency air medical transport.
“Mercy Flight Central has been made aware of a helicopter crash in Western New York. At this time, all Mercy Flight Central aircraft and personnel are accounted for.
“Our thoughts are with all those involved.” the company said in a statement to 13WHAM.
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