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Preliminary report gives no clues into tragic helicopter crash in La Crosse

A preliminary report released Wednesday did not say what might have caused the University of Wisconsin-Madison medical chopper crash that killed three workers.

The National Transportation Safety Board did say the helicopter hit the top of an 1,160-foot ridge before falling to the ground.

The crew had just flown a patient to a La Crosse hospital when it started heading home to Madison and it crashed soon afterward.

It happened late at night on May 10, about 4.5 miles southeast of the La Crosse airport.

Surgeon Darren Bean, nurse Mark Coyne and pilot Steve Lipperer were killed.

It was raining when they took off and officials said the visibility was fair.

Investigators said they saw damaged trees and fragments of rotor blades at the top of the ridge and the main wreckage was found 600-feet away, and about 230-feet down.

The safety board said it would take a few months to a year to find out why the crash occurred.

The UW's remaining chopper has stayed down since the mishap to give workers time to deal with their emotional concerns.

Today (Thursday), the service is running practice flights aimed at restoring the crew members' flying confidence. They have not said when regular flights would resume.