A medevac Airbus EC-135 helicopter crash-landed early this afternoon (Jan. 11) in a churchyard outside Philadelphia. Operated by the LifeNet program, an Air Methods affiliate based in Maryland, the flight’s harrowing ending resulted in no serious injuries to the four onboard, including a two-month-old infant patient, two pilots and a flight nurse.
The helicopter reportedly suffered a mechanical failure and came to rest in the front yard of Drexel Hill United Methodist Church in densely populated Upper Darby Township, just a few miles from downtown Philadelphia. First responders and local officials are hailing the performance of the flight crew. Interviewed alongside the crash-landing site, Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt said, “It’s an absolute miracle what you see behind me. No trees or power lines down.”
A spokesman for Colorado-based Air Methods said, “Our team will cooperate fully with their efforts to assess the cause of this unfortunate accident. Privacy rights with regards to those on board the aircraft will be honored.”
FlightAware data shows the EC-135 regularly flew from Hagerstown Regional Airport, Maryland, to Lost Acres Airport in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The accident flight departed from Lost Acres at around noon and was bringing the infant patient to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. About an hour after takeoff, emergency responders said, they were notified that the flight required assistance.
Witnesses reported the helicopter flying very low over the neighborhood and maneuvering for what they took to be an emergency landing. It ended up on its side outside the church, and all occupants were able to get out of the aircraft safely before first responders even arrived.