Helicopter crash victims remembered - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Helicopter crash victims remembered

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MASON CITY, Minn. (KTTC) --  Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa and Med-Trans Corporation are remembering three people killed in the crash of a medical transport helicopter.

Authorities say nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau and paramedic Russell Piehl were killed in the crash. Pilot Gene Grell, who worked for Texas-based Med-Trans Air Medical Transport, was also killed.

Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa President Dan Varnum remembered Lair-Langenbau and Piehl at a news conference Thursday afternoon in Mason City.

"They, like all Mercy health care, like all Mercy employees were selfless workers who gave their lives to really providing care for others each and every day," Varnum said.

Varnum and others were too choked up to go into anymore detail about 44-year-old Shelly Lair-Langenbau who was with the company for 15 years and 48-year-old Russell Piehl who was there for five years.

Med-Trans Air Medical Transport, of Lewisville, Texas, owned and operated the helicopter. The company identified the pilot as 53-year-old Gene Grell.

The chopper was a Bell 407 that was newly introduced in 2011.

Med-Trans Air Medical Transport spokesman Fred Buttrell said the aircraft had recently undergone a successful inspection.

"The aircraft did not have the quote black box but it did have a satellite tracking system that monitored aircraft positioning and aircraft information that will be used as part of the download of the investigation," Buttrell said.

Pilot Gene Grell started flying with Med-Trans in October after logging 2,700 flight hours.

Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa has not experienced an accident with its flights since 2004. Flights will be suspended for a short time as officials investigate the crash.

The medical center is reaching out to its employees, offering counseling and asks for privacy for the families of these three victims as well as their employees.

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