Mandan N.D. (KFGO) – The Morton County Sheriff’s Office says a plane operated by Metro Area Ambulance crashed northwest of Mandan late Sunday night, killing the three occupants.
The aircraft was enroute from Bismarck to Williston to assist in a patient transport. They left Bismarck around 10:30 p.m.
CHI St. Alexius said in a statement, “a Bismarck Air Medical pilot and paramedic, along with a CHI St. Alexius Health registered nurse, were on board.”
The Morton County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victims as 48-year-old pilot Todd Lasky of Bismarck, 63-year-old NICU nurse Bonnie Cook of Bismarck, and 47-year-old paramedic Chris Iverson of Mandan.
“We did get that it was at an altitude and they lost contact with it,” Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said. “There was no radio or radar contact, after a certain point. [And] that’s when we started looking into this further and start searching for the aircraft.”
A search by the sheriff’s office, Civil Air Patrol and Air Force Rescue Team led them to the crash site around 2 a.m. Monday.
Civil Air Patrol Lt. Colonel Sean Johnson says conditions at the time were below minimums to launch an air search. He says no signal could be picked up by by satellites from the plane’s on-board electronic location transmitter so they had to use GPS signals off the occupants’ cell phones to get an idea where the plane went down.
“The best I can tell [from] the information we received from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center is that it broke up in flight,” Lt. Colonel Johnson said.
Sheriff Kirchmeier says the twin engine Cessna crashed in rough terrain about 15 to 20 miles from Mandan that is not easily accessible by vehicles.
The sheriff says there was light snow at the time the plane crashed but it is unclear if that had any factor in the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the cause of the crash.
In a joint statement, Kurt Schley, CHI St. Alexius Health Bismarck President, and Dan Schaefer, Bismarck Air Medical and Metro Area Ambulance Operations Chief, stated:
“It is a sad day here for both of our organizations. We are grieving for the family members of those who were on board. The names of the individuals are not being released until families are notified. We are focused on supporting the families and associates from both organizations. We ask for your prayers and support at this very difficult time for all.”
Governor Doug Burgum issued the following statement on the crash:
“We are deeply saddened by the news of last night’s airplane crash that claimed the lives of the pilot, a paramedic and a registered nurse – individuals who dedicated their lives to saving the lives of others. We are forever grateful for their service. Kathryn and I extend our deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers to their families, friends and colleagues in the medical and first responder communities.”
The North Dakota Highway patrol released a statement saying:
Our hearts are heavy with grief for the members of Metro Area Ambulance Service and CHI St. Alexius that died in a plane crash early this morning. The NDHP family wants to send our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and co-workers of the individuals that were lost.