ELBA, NY (AP) — A medical helicopter pilot and a flight instructor were killed in an accident Tuesday during a training flight in western New York, according to state police and the company. transport.
The Mercy Flight helicopter crashed around 1 p.m. near the town of Elba, Genesee County, located halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said at a news conference.
No patients were on board, authorities said. Mercy Flight said the cause of the crash has not been determined and the crash occurred during Bell Helicopter’s annual factory training.
Buffalo-based Mercy Flight identified the pilot as James Sauer, 60, of Churchville, a retired New York State Police pilot. The Rochester Police Department says Sauer worked as an RPD officer from 1993 to 2001.
The flight instructor, who worked for the helicopter manufacturer, was identified by state police as Stewart Dietrick, 60, of Prosper, Texas.
Staniszewski of the state police said the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash. The weather doesn’t seem to be a factor.
Downed power lines were visible near the wreckage, but are not believed to have contributed, Staniszewski said.
“I don’t believe the lines caused the crash, but the plane may have hit the lines on its way down,” he said.
Mercy Flight flies patients to area hospitals in a Bell 429 helicopter, according to the nonprofit’s website. The twin-engine aircraft was being sheltered at the Genesee County Airport, located just under 3 miles from the crash site.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.