No Survivors In Aeromedical Citation Crash

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Monday afternoon's crash into Lake Michigan of a Cessna Citation Bravo engaged in transporting human organs for transplant killed all six aboard the flight, including the two crew and four medical team members. The jet, N550BP, had just launched from Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport (KMKE), headed for the Willow Run Airport (KYPS) near Detroit, when its crew reportedly declared an emergency and stated its intention to return to KMKE. Seconds later, after climbing to approximately 2,000 feet MSL, the jet was lost from radar as it descended through 600 feet. Within an hour, searchers discovered aircraft wreckage -- including human remains -- and a jet fuel slick on Lake Michigan's surface roughly a mile east of Milwaukee's lakeshore. Reported weather at KMKE within minutes of the crash included northerly winds at 10 knots with gusts to 19, nine statute miles' visibility in light rain, scattered clouds at 1600 feet, a broken cloud layer at 3000 feet and an overcast at 3500 feet. The Citation Bravo was leased from Southland, Mich.-based Toy Air and operated by Marlin Air for the University of Michigan Survival Flight air ambulance program. The medical team aboard the flight was composed of University of Michigan employees.

According to published reports, the crew radioed ATC they were experiencing a "runaway" condition, presumably of the Citation's pitch controls. Early on Tuesday, U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones told reporters, "The condition of the aircraft debris and human remains found indicate a high-speed impact," confirming early information indicating the Citation had a groundspeed of approximately 185 knots when it was lost from ATC radar. Dennis Hoyes and Bill Serra piloted the Citation, according to published reports; both were employed by Marlin Air. Passengers included Drs. David Ashburn and Martinus "Martin" Spoor plus transplant donation specialists Richard Chenault II and Richard Lapensee. The medical team had flown to Milwaukee Monday to harvest human lungs for a double transplant; whether flight crewmembers Hoyes and Serra piloted the Citation to KMKE wasn't available at AVweb's deadline. No information was available on the intended transplant recipient's fate. The NTSB is investigating.