Survival Flight spokesperson defends decision to fly on night of fatal air ambulance crash

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A spokesperson defended the company that operated a helicopter air ambulance involved in a fatal crash in January.

On Tuesday, Ryan Stubenrauch, a spokesperson for Survival Flight, said one out of every four calls that Survival Flight receives gets denied due to weather and safety concerns.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board obtained by NBC 4 Monday detailed how two other air ambulance services declined to take the Jan. 29 flight from Grove City to Pomeroy due to poor weather conditions.

That Survival Flight crew of a pilot, a nurse, and a paramedic died when the helicopter crashed in Zaleski.

Speaking of the Jan. 29 flight, Stubenrauch said, “We said we’d do it because nothing in the weather reports, none of the safety factors that would say we don’t go said that we shouldn’t go. Like I said, one out of every four calls we get, we say no based purely on weather and safety.”

In the NTSB report, several former and current employees are noted to have expressed concerns over the company’s safety policy. In the report, the employees detail how either they or other crews were pressured to fly to meet certain quotas set by the company.

The fatal flight took off from its base at Mount Carmel Grove City, which contracts with Survival Flight.

A spokesperson with Mount Carmel issued the following statement:

“We are speaking with the air medical transportation company, Survival Flight, to understand the report that we recently became aware of from the National Transportation Safety Board.”

All three crew members who died in the January crash were from Ohio: pilot Jennifer Topper, 34, of Sunbury and flight nurses Bradley Haynes, 48, of London, and Rachel Cunningham, 33, of Galloway.

Below are the reports from the NTSB, including a letter Cunningham wrote to the company’s human resources department approximately a month before the fatal flight.

OPERATIONAL FACTORS/HUMAN PERFORMANCE REPORT

FLIGHT ACCIDENT REPORT

CUNNINGHAM LETTER TO HUMAN RESOURCES

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