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UW-Hospital helicopter crashes near La Crosse killing three

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River Falls,Wisconsin 54022
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UW-Hospital helicopter crashes near La Crosse killing three
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Officials are not sure if Saturday night's fog and rain caused a medical chopper to crash into a bluff near La Crosse, killing all three personnel on board.


Among the dead is Darren Bean, 37, who helped Madison's emergency workers make a big change in treating heart attack patients, reducing their neurological damage

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Med-Flight team flew a patient from Prairie du Chien to La Crosse, because a local chopper was busy at the time.

The team dropped off the patient, refueled then headed home in rain and fog. Controllers lost contact about six minutes into the flight.

A search took place, and the victims' cell-phone signals were eventually detected along the flight route.

The chopper's remains were found Sunday morning in a heavily wooded area between La Crosse and Onalaska.

Federal investigators say a preliminary cause might take two weeks to determine.

Besides Bean, medicine instructor Mark Coyne, 53, was killed along with the pilot, Steve Lipperer, 39.

It was the first crash of a UW Med-Flight chopper in the program's 23-year history.

Gov. Jim Doyle said Wisconsinites owe tremendous gratitude to the Med-Flight team, saying they dedicated themselves to saving people with the longest odds.

More than 75 people have died in U.S. medical flight crashes in the last decade. That includes six people from the University of Michigan whose chopper crashed just after leaving Milwaukee last June.