Investigators looking for cause of medical helicopter crash

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SOUTH ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The investigation into the Friday night crash of an ARCH Medi-Vac helicopter could take as long as one year. The helicopter was heading to the Saint Louis University Hospital helipad around 11:00pm when it failed to achieve enough altitude to land. Its rotors struck the side of an outpatient clinic building before it crashed on the parking lot below.

The pilot, identified as Ronald Rector, 52, of Lynn, MO, was killed. He was the only person aboard.

The owner of the helicopter, Air Methods, released a statement.

We are deeply saddened by the news that our sole occupant, our pilot was fatally injured, and our hearts go out to the pilot’s family. The FAA and the NTSB have our full cooperation as they further investigate the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday that witnesses said they did not hear anything out of the ordinary as the helicopter approached the hospital. Air safety investigator Mitchell Gallo said the helicopter's engine, flight controls, and transmission systems will all be studied. Investigators will also collect GPS information, witness testimony, and any surveillance video.

Gallo said, "We are hoping that the GPS data will show his altitude and just what went on between prior to the impact and as he was approaching the hospital."

The outpatient care building was closed at the time of the crash and a hospital spokesperson said no one was on the parking lot. However, a pickup truck parked near the crash scene did catch fire and was totaled.