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3 killed when Iowa medical helicopter crashes

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A nurse, a paramedic and a pilot died when the Mercy Air Med helicopter in which they were traveling crashed.

The helicopter was enroute to Emmetsburg when the crash happened in a field near Ventura at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, January 2, 2013.   The helicopter was based at Mercy Medical Center of North Iowa in Mason City.

Nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau and paramedic Russell Piehl were killed in the crash.  The pilot, Gene Grell, also did not survive.

Mercy-North Iowa had spiritual care providers and counselors available to provide support to family members and co-workers who knew the crew members.

“They were each selfless healthcare professionals devoted to the delivery of emergency medical care.  While they fulfilled significant duties, they played a greater role as our neighbors and friends,” said Dan Varnum, President and CEO of Mercy-North Iowa.

The cause of the crash was not yet known.  The FAA and NTSB had investigators at the scene the day after the crash.

Thanks to our sister station WHO-TV for some of the background information for this report.