LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The National Transportation Safety Board which is investigating the Care Flight plane crash in northern Nevada that killed five people said the plane broke apart in the air before crashing.
NTSB Vice Chair Bruce Landsberg said at a news briefing Sunday that parts of the plane were found up to three-quarters of a mile away from the crash scene in a mountainous area. There is a seven-member team from the NTSB at the scene investigating the cause of the crash.
A pilot, flight nurse, flight paramedic, patient, and his wife were killed in the crash Friday night near Stagecoach, according to REMSA Health.
According to the NTSB, the plane was en route to Salt Lake City from Reno and was only in the air for 14 minutes before it crashed during a winter storm warning where visibility was under two miles and the cloud ceiling was about 2,000 feet above the ground, the National Weather Service reported.
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office said it began receiving multiple calls around 9:15 p.m. of a possible aircraft crash in Stagecoach, about 25 miles southeast of Reno. Search and rescue teams from Lyon and Douglas counties responded.
REMSA Health identified the medical transport plane as a Pilatus PC 12 fixed-wing aircraft and said in a statement it went off the radar around 9:45 p.m. The plane was located around 11:15 p.m.
Barry Duplantis, CEO and president of REMSA Health, said in a statement his organization is grieving the loss and extended its deepest condolences to the families.
“Our REMSA Health and Care Flight team remains focused on our people and their families,” he said in the statement.
Duplantis said Central Lyon County Fire Department confirmed that none of the five people on board survived and that families have been notified.
“Our focus is and will remain on helping staff and colleagues, as well as their families, cope with this devastating news. We are asking that their privacy be respected,” Duplantis said in the statement.
Guardian Flight is the official aviation vendor for Care Flight, a service of REMSA Health. The pilot involved was a Guardian Flight employee. The healthcare providers involved in this incident were Care Flight-REMSA Health employees.
Care Flight is headquartered in Reno, Guardian Flight in Utah.
Guardian Flight and Care Flight will follow a safety process where all their flights across the company will be in a passive stand down, according to a post on the REMSA Health Facebook page.
The five killed in the crash were identified by the Washoe County coroner as:
- 32-year-old Edward Pricola of Reno (Flight nurse) He is survived by his wife Lauren and two children.
- 27-year-old Ryan Watson of Reno (Flight paramedic) He became a father on Jan. 19 and is survived by his wife Kailey, and newborn child.
- 46-year-old Scott Walton of Allendale, Michigan (Guardian Flight pilot) He is survived by his wife and their three daughters
- 69-year-old Mark Rand of Reno (Patient) He was being flown to Utah for medical treatment.
- 66-year-old Terri Rand of Reno (Patient’s wife)
The Nevada State Medical Association stated that GoFundMe pages have been set up for all five. GoFundMe has verified the accounts as legitimate. A community condolences webpage has been set up for people to leave comments.
On Saturday, Nevada State Police joined REMSA and several law enforcement and first responder agencies in a procession to escort the bodies of the five victims to the Medical Examiner’s office.
The crash occurred amid a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service in Reno for large swaths of Nevada, including parts of Lyon County.
The Weather Service said it was expecting heavy snow, wind gusts of up to 65 mph, and periods of whiteout conditions between 4 a.m. Friday and 4 a.m. Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.