Four Dead In Maryland State Police Chopper Crash

Discussion in 'Line of Duty Death News' started by Inspector, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. Inspector

    Inspector Subscribing Member

    Four people were killed early this morning when a Maryland State Police medical evacuation helicopter crashed in a park near Capitol Heights after encountering bad weather, authorities said.
    Two Maryland State troopers, a Charles County emergency medical technician and one of two female patients the crew was transporting from a motor vehicle accident to Prince George's Hospital were killed, said Mark Brady, spokesman for the county's Emergency Medical Services Department.
    The other patient, a teenage girl, who was already in critical condition following the motor vehicle crash in Waldorf, survived the helicopter crash. She was transported the remaining distance to the hospital by ambulance, Brady said.
    The crash was the deadliest in the 47-year history of the Maryland State Police aviation unit, and the department's first in more than 22 years. The state police conduct almost all aerial medical evacuations in Maryland, and are the only such publicly run, statewide service in the country. Trooper 2, the helicopter that crashed, has routinely ranked as one of the busiest in the country in recent years.
    Brady said the crew of Trooper 2 reported encountering severe weather while returning from Charles County shortly before midnight. Using a statewide emergency radio system, the crew requested that Prince George's paramedics rendezvous with the helicopter at its hangar at Andrews Air Force Base
    Two ambulances were dispatched to the base and paramedics were standing by, waiting to ferry the patients the remaining 13 miles to Prince George's Hospital when air traffic controllers at the base reported losing radio contact with the helicopter at about 12:30 a.m.
    Trooper 2 never arrived and local, state and federal authorities immediately launched a massive search for the helicopter, but after an hour the wreckage was still not found.
    Using technology to track signals from the cell phones of the crew, authorities eventually narrowed their search to an area near Walker Mill Road and Berry Lane in Capitol Heights, Brady said.
    At 2 a.m., an officer spotted the crash site. The helicopter had come to rest deep inside the 470-acre Walker Mill Regional Park, near a paved bike path behind a series of softball fields, authorities said.
    A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was reportedly en route to the crash scene early this morning.
    The state police operate a fleet of 12 EuroCopter Dauphin helicopters capable of medical evacuations.
    Despite funding concerns and aging equipment, the department has held one of the best safety records in the country. Its last crash was on Jan. 19, 1986, when two officers encountered severe fog and crashed in West Baltimore after transporting a shooting victim to a hospital.
    In all, there has been one airplane and three fatal helicopter crashes since the unit was formed in 1961. By contrast, crashes involving private air ambulances have soared in recent years, with 55 crashes from 2002 to 2005, according to a 2006 congressional report.
    The state legislature last year endorsed replacing the department's 18-year-old fleet at a cost of $110 million. Some lawmakers said maintaining the state-run fleet was critical to equally serving residents in rural and urban areas.
    The state police keep the helicopters in eight locations across Maryland so they can reach any corner of the state within 18 minutes.
    Last year, a Washington Post reporter rode along on Trooper 2 as it took off and landed more than 20 times in six hours, carrying patients to and from Prince George's hospitals.





    WASHINGTON POST
  2. Killjoy

    Killjoy Zombie Hunter

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, brothers.

    "In valor there is hope."
  3. Inspector

    Inspector Subscribing Member

    Authorities identified those killed as Stephen H. Bunker, 59, the pilot; Mickey C. Lippy, 34, the flight paramedic, a state trooper first class; Tanya Mallard, 39, an emergency medical technician from rescue squad station 12 in Waldorf; and Ashley Youngler, 18, one of the victims in the vehicle crash. Jordan Wells, 18, another of the vehicle accident victims, survived in critical condition.
    The crash was the deadliest in the 47-year history of the Maryland State Police aviation unit, and the department's first in more than 22 years. The state police operate a fleet of 12 EuroCopter Dauphin helicopters capable of medical evacuations. The unit conducts almost all aerial medical evacuations in Maryland, and are the only such publicly run, statewide service in the country. Trooper 2 that crashed, has routinely ranked as one of the busiest in the country in recent years.

    Pilot Stephen Bunker had been with the Maryland State Police since 1972. He was a State Police corporal, who retired in 1998 and returned to service as a civilian pilot. He had flown for the Maryland State Police for more than 24 years. He was married and had three grown children. Mr. Bunker held a commercial pilot’s license and was a certified flight instructor and a certified instrument flight instructor. He also had a single engine airplane pilot’s license.

    Trooper First Class Mickey Lippy was appointed to the Maryland State Police four years ago. He had been in the Aviation Command as a flight paramedic for since April of 2007. TFC Lippy was married. He had recently returned from family leave after the birth of his daughter, who is four months old.

    Tanya Mallard was a dedicated member of the Waldorf Rescue Squad, at Station 12. She did not hesitate to join the crew of Trooper 2 this morning in their effort to save the lives of their two patients. She leaves behind her husband and two children.

    [​IMG]
    Steve Bunker
  4. Simon

    Simon Guest

    RIP brothers. God awaits you and yearns to repay you for all the lives you have spared from death over the years. God bless and thank you.
  5. Michele

    Michele MassCops Member

    Rest in Peace.
  6. Delta784

    Delta784 Guest

    That's awful......R.I.P.

    Maryland SP copters (and their medevac capabilities) were featured prominently in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games novel.
  7. MDSP2597

    MDSP2597 Subscribing Member

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 28, 2008


    UPDATE: 11:20 A.M. - FOUR FATALITIES IN STATE POLICE MEDEVAC CRASH IN PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY


    (Forestville, MD) – Maryland State Police have confirmed the identifications of the victims from the crash involving a State Police helicopter early this morning in Prince George’s County.
    The deceased victims are identified as Stephen H. Bunker, 59, of Waldorf, Md., the State Police pilot; Trooper First Class Mickey C. Lippy, 34, of Westminster, Md., the State Police flight paramedic; Tanya Mallard, 39, of Waldorf, an EMT-B with the Waldorf Rescue Squad; and Ashley J. Younger, 17, of Waldorf, who was a patient being transported.
    The surviving victim of the crash is identified as Jordan A. Wells, 18, of Waldorf. Wells is currently undergoing treatment at the Prince George’s County Hospital Center.
    At about 11:00 p.m. yesterday, Maryland State Police medevac helicopter, Trooper 2, was dispatched to the scene of a traffic crash in Waldorf. Trooper 2 left its hangar at the Andrews Air Force Base. It was piloted by Mr. Steven Bunker and the flight paramedic was Trooper First Class Mickey Lippy.
    The crew flew to the crash scene and picked up two patients, Ashley Younger and Jordan Wells. Joining the crew to assist with medical care on the flight to the hospital was Tanya Mallard, who had responded to the scene with the Waldorf Rescue Squad.
    Trooper 2 lifted off and headed to the Prince George’s Hospital Center. No call came from the helicopter crew notifying helicopter dispatch that they had landed.
    Just before 12:30 this morning, the State Police Forestville Barracks, the Prince George’s County Police, Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office, and the Prince George’s County Fire Department launched a search for the helicopter. Flight following equipment was used to locate the region of the crash. The crash site was found by police officers on foot shortly before 2:00 a.m. today. The crash site is in a wooded area within the Walker Mill Regional Park, in the 8000-block of Walker Mill Road, in Forestville.
    The four deceased victims were pronounced dead at the scene. The surviving victim was transported by ambulance to the Prince George’s Hospital Center.
    Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were notified and are on the scene. Maryland State Police investigators are also on the scene and are providing any assistance necessary to the federal investigators.
    Pilot Stephen Bunker had been with the Maryland State Police since 1972. He was a State Police corporal, who retired in 1998 and returned to service as a civilian pilot. He had flown for the Maryland State Police for more than 24 years. He was married and had three grown children. Mr. Bunker held a commercial pilot’s license and was a certified flight instructor and a certified instrument flight instructor. He also had a single engine airplane pilot’s license.
    Trooper First Class Mickey Lippy was appointed to the Maryland State Police four years ago. He had been in the Aviation Command as a flight paramedic for since April of 2007. TFC Lippy was married. He had recently returned from family leave after the birth of his daughter, who is four months old.
    Tanya Mallard was a dedicated member of the Waldorf Rescue Squad, at Station 12. She did not hesitate to join the crew of Trooper 2 this morning in their effort to save the lives of their two patients. She leaves behind her husband and two children.
    The aircraft was a Eurocopter Dauphin II twin jet engine helicopter. It became a part of the State Police fleet in June 1989, and was the second helicopter purchased in the current fleet. The helicopter completed a 100-hour inspection on Wednesday, September 24th.
    The State Police Aviation Command has grounded all aircraft for at least today. Allied partners in the U.S. Park Police, Delaware State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, and commercial medevac companies will be covering the state today with helicopter services.
    The Maryland State Police will work diligently with federal authorities to uncover the details of what occurred this morning. Our ultimate goal is to determine what caused the crash and this tragic loss of life.
    All calls regarding the details or cause of the crash, and any updates concerning the investigation should be directed to the National Transportation Safety Board, at 202-314-6100.


    ###


    CONTACT: Mr. Gregory Shipley
    Office of Media Communications & Marketing
    410-653-4236 (Office) 410-653-4200 (through Headquarters Duty Officer)
    [​IMG]
  8. PapaBear

    PapaBear MassCops Member

    RIP! Thank you for your dedicated service and devotion to your fellow man.

    [​IMG]
  9. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed Subscribing Member MC1+MC2 +MC3 90K+Poster

    Md. police ground helicopters after
    crash kills 2 officers, 2 others


    [​IMG]
    A police officer walks through the wreckage from a medical helicopter that crashed Saturday, killing two officers, an emergency medical technician and the victim of a car accident who was being transported to a hospital nearby. (AP Photo)​

    By Brian Westley and Nafeesa Syeed
    The Associated Press

    DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. — The decision had been made safely many times before: Victims in a car crash were critically injured, and a helicopter was dispatched to rush them to the hospital.
    But before the emergency team ever got the patients to waiting doctors, the pilot struggled in the darkness and fog. Soon, he radioed that conditions were difficult, and said he would land elsewhere. The radio eventually went silent - and the helicopter was discovered in a crumpled heap on a woodsy hillside, with four of its five occupants dead.
    The weekend's crash at a park in suburban Washington, D.C., was the eighth fatal crash in the past 12 months across the country involving medical transport helicopters. Observers say the accident demonstrates a disturbing rise in the number of emergency air transport crashes, and wonder if a system designed to save lives may be costing them.
    Aviation authorities also are signaling that it may be time to discuss regulatory changes, and planning a public hearing to analyze what's causing the increase in crashes. They also could discuss how decisions are made when officials choose to transport patients by air or by ground.
    Dr. Bryan Bledsoe, an emergency medicine physician who teaches at the University of Nevada and has researched accident rates of medical helicopters, said the Maryland medevac system has a good safety record, but medical flights are sometimes too favored over old-fashioned ambulances.
    "We vastly overuse them, patients don't benefit and they are expensive," he said.
    Maryland emergency officials haven't described in detail what influenced their decision to launch a helicopter before Saturday's crash, saying only they were following state emergency procedures and that they considered the severity of the victims' injuries. They also have said when the helicopter initially took off, there was seven miles of visibility. By the time of the crash, however, conditions had deteriorated to the point that the pilot had to rely on instruments to help him land.
    Dawn Mancuso, the executive director of the Association of Air Medical Services, said time, distance and other factors can influence when to use a helicopter over an ambulance in an emergency. The split-second decision can be complicated by the fact that the ones making the call don't have access to an ultrasound or CAT scan - and have to err on the side of getting a patient to a hospital faster.
    "It's easy to second-guess what happens once the patient's been cared for," Mancuso said. Medical providers "are making their best educated guess to what the needs of the patient are - and sometimes they're wrong."
    In the last 12 months, 31 people have been killed in accidents involving medical helicopters, the National Transportation Safety Board said. A federal investigation in 2006 found there were 55 air ambulance accidents nationally from 2002 to 2005, resulting in 54 fatalities.
    Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Alison Duquette said the agency is concerned, and is working with EMS associations to figure out what more they can do to reduce accidents.
    The state-run helicopter program in Maryland had been known for its safety record, with just three other fatal crashes in four decades. But in recent weeks, concerns had been raised about the fleet's age and maintenance.
    Last week, two state senators wrote to the FAA saying that Maryland's helicopters "are aging and represent a considerable degree of complexity in terms of maintenance and repair capabilities." The helicopter that crashed was the second-oldest in the state's fleet, though it had passed an inspection only days before the flight.
    The helicopter did not have a terrain awareness warning system that would have alerted the pilot he was flying dangerously close to trees, said National Transportation Safety Board member Debbie Hersman. The NTSB in 2006 recommended that emergency medical helicopters begin using the equipment.
    State Police have temporarily grounded medical flights as investigators work to determine a cause. Dr. Robert Bass, director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, said he's hopeful some helicopters can go back into use in the next two or three days, but no one is rushing to reinstate the flights.
    "We're not pushing them," Bass said. "We want them to be safe, and so we're just waiting to hear from them about when they're comfortable in putting the helocopters back on line."
    The lone survivor of the crash was in critical but stable condition in a hospital Monday. Eighteen-year-old Jordan Wells' father, Scott, said his daughter spent an extended amount of time in the woods after the crash waiting for help. She is unable to speak, but she can squeeze doctors' hands, he said.
    "We have a mix of emotions," he said. "...We do believe God saved Jordan and we're just waiting to find out why."



    [​IMG]Wire Service
  10. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed Subscribing Member MC1+MC2 +MC3 90K+Poster

    Funeral Services Set for Maryland Troopers


    Funeral arrangements are set for the members of the Maryland State Helicopter crew killed early Sunday morning.
    Trooper Mickey Lippy and Pilot Stephen Bunker were killed in a helicopter crash while performing a medical evacuation of two critically injured teenagers from Charles County.

    Services are as follows:

    Pilot Stephen Bunker, Maryland State Police
    Viewing: Friday, October 3, 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM, South Potomac Church, 4915 Crain Highway, White Plains, Maryland 20695 301-753-4075.
    Service: Saturday, October 4, 11:00 AM, South Potomac Church, White Plains, Maryland 20695
    Burial: Cedar Hill Cemetery, 4111 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suitland, Maryland 20746

    TFC Mickey Lippy, Maryland State Police
    Viewing: Thursday, October, 2, 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Gamber & Community Fire Company Station 13, 3838 Niner Road, Gamber, Maryland 21048 410 795 3445
    Service: Friday, October 3, 11:00 AM, Gamber & Community Fire Company
    Burial: Friday, October 3, immediately following funeral, Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 East Padonia Road, Timonium, Maryland, 21093
  11. MDSP2597

    MDSP2597 Subscribing Member

    A memorial fund has been established for the four month old daughter of Trooper First Class Mickey Lippy, who was killed in a Medevac crash early Sunday morning.
    Donations for Madison Lippy can be sent to:

    The Madison Lippy Trust, Hartford Financial Group, Attn: Mallory, 836 South Main St., Suite 105, Bel Air, MD 21015. Make checks payable to American Funds, and reference Madison Lippy in the memo
  12. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed Subscribing Member MC1+MC2 +MC3 90K+Poster

    Maryland Medevac Pilots Ordered To Take Competency Test

    BALTIMORE --
    The WBAL TV 11 News I-Team has learned that Maryland State Police aviation command has ordered all Medevac pilots to complete an instrument landing competency test before they can resume flying.
    David Collins Reports
    The order for the test is in conjunction with in-flight checks of glide slope equipment in each helicopter. A glide slope assists in the pilots decent onto a landing zone.
    The order followed last weekend's helicopter crash that killed four people. The pilot of Trooper 2, Stephen Bunker, 59, had told the tower at Andrews Air Force Base that he was having trouble capturing his glide slope -- or in common terms, acquiring the radio signal that provides guidance to the runway.
    Bunker's service record and performance are part of the National Transportation and Safety Board's investigation.
    But pilots who recently flew Trooper 2 told investigators that the aircraft's instruments were functioning normally. The helicopter had also just undergone a 100-hour inspection.
    Several aviation experts who asked not to be quoted because of the ongoing investigation are questioning whether Bunker was flying too low for his glide slope to engage, I-Team reporter David Collins said.
    According to the NTSB, Andrews recorded the helicopter flying at 700 feet within three miles of the runway. Experts told 11 News that's too low and too close to start an instrument approach. They said the pilot should have begun the process seven miles out and at least at 1,000 feet.
    A neighbor of Walker Mill Regional Park told investigators he spotted the helicopter flying below the cloud ceiling. The NTSB said that just before the crash there were scattered clouds at 200 feet.
    The NTSB determined the helicopter's first point of impact was the top of an 80-foot tree.
    Experts pointed out that Bunker had other equipment on board indicating his altitude, and they also questioned whether the Andrews control tower provided a warning. The NTSB is also looking into air traffic control training.
    In a memorandum dated Nov. 27, 2007, state police aviation unit commander Maj. A.J. McAndrew spelled out policy changes in the pilot training plan.
    The four-page document said, in part, that due to the aviation command's current helicopter fleet maintenance situation, it is the intent of the new training plan to reduce flight time and provide more structured and consistent training.
    The memo said, "Pilots will no longer fly with each other at the section level for instrument currency," meaning that pilots couldn't practice instrument landings like they used to whenever the opportunity presented itself.
    Experts said the policy change could mean the difference between being proficient at instrument landing and just passing a required test to stay current to Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
    The memo informed pilots that aviation command would be leasing a flight simulator from American Helicopters Inc., saying, "The simulator, although not specific to the Dauphine aircraft cockpit, will be utilized in a pinch for training current and new pilots on instrument procedures."
    Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said that policy changes to pilot training has made the program stronger, more structured, consistent and better.
    State police also said that pilots are encouraged to practice instrument landing whenever they have the opportunity, and if they feel weak in any particular area, they are encouraged to go in and work with an instructor.

    Story From: wbaltv.com
  13. MDSP2597

    MDSP2597 Subscribing Member

    A memorial trust fund has been established in Steve’s honor. Contributions should be written to the Corporal Stephen H. Bunker Memorial Trust Fund and mailed to the following address:

    M&T Bank
    Attn: Corporal Stephen H. Bunker Memorial Trust Fund
    PO Box 6265
    Waldorf, MD, 20603


    It appears the finger pointing is starting down here.
  14. MM1799

    MM1799 Subscribing Member

    My sincerest condolences to you MDSP and all our brothers and sisters down there.
    Not only is this a horrible tragedy but it brings back horrible memories.

    RIP.

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