A Pafford Air One medical helicopter that crashed Sunday night in Arkansas County, killing three, was based in Pine Bluff, according to Pine Bluff Regional Airport/Grider Field Manager Doug Hale.
“It was Air One Bravo,” Hale said. “It was a huge loss for us and obviously for the Pafford family.”
According to wire service reports, the helicopter went down Sunday night near DeWitt, about 55 miles east of Pine Bluff.
It was carrying a crew of three but no patients. The Associated Press reported Monday afternoon that Pafford Air One identified the victims as 46-year-old pilot Michael Bollen of Hot Springs, 61-year-old flight nurse James Lawson Spruiell of Sulligent, Alabama; and 26-year-old flight paramedic John Auld III, who went by the nickname Trey, of Shreveport, Louisiana.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the aircraft was flying from Pine Bluff to DeWitt at the time of the crash. Pafford came to Pine Bluff in March 2016 and became the third base for the air ambulance service, joining Ruston, Louisiana, and Clarksdale, Mississippi.
At a meet and greet for the company on March 15, 2016, Mike Pope, the base manager at Pine Bluff, said the city was selected because it overlapped bases in the other two states, and dispatchers in Louisiana would decide which helicopter was closest.
Hale said Monday that the helicopter was owned by Air Methods Corp., which, according to its website, is a Colorado-based company that provides emergency air medical transport from more than 300 bases of operation throughout the country.
The Bell 407 helicopter was leased to Pafford EMS, which provides emergency transport in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, Hale said.
The company said on its Facebook page that it’s “devastated by the sudden loss of three of our team members.”
The cause of the crash remains under investigation and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Administration (NTSB) will be sent to investigate the cause of the crash.
“On behalf of the Airport staff and the Airport Commission, our hearts go out to the Pafford Air Ambulance family,” Hale said.