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Hospital: 3 dead in Tenn. medical helicopter crash

Two hospital workers and a pilot were killed when a medical helicopter crashed in Tennessee as the aircraft was headed to pick up an ailing child, officials said Tuesday.

Meri Armour, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s president and CEO, said the Hospital Wing helicopter was cleared for both weather and flight plans when it took off Tuesday morning headed to Bolivar.

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‘‘This was a very experienced pilot and a very experienced crew and a great helicopter, so we’re all anxious to know what happened,’’ Armour said.

When the helicopter did not respond during a routine check-in around 6:20 a.m., authorities began searching. They found the burning wreckage in a wooded area of Somerville, about 45 miles east of Memphis.

Armour estimated that the aircraft was about a half hour into the flight when it went down.

Aerial footage of the crash site showed smoke rising from a group of trees. Several emergency workers could be seen around a blackened patch of ground where it appeared that little remained of the Eurocopter AS350.

In a news release, the hospital identified those killed as 47-year-old pilot Charles Smith, 43-year-old nurse Carrie Barlow, and 43-year-old respiratory therapist Denise Adams.

The sick child was not on board the aircraft and was eventually taken by ground ambulance to Le Bonheur.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said in an e-mail that her agency and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Another Hospital Wing helicopter crashed in West Tennessee in March 2010. That crash killed the pilot and two nurses.

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