June 30, 2008

Choppers Collide, Kill 7 in Arizona

By Amanda Lee Myers Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Two medical helicopters collided in midair Sunday afternoon near an Arizona hospital, killing at least seven people and critically injuring three, a federal official said.

All three people on one of the helicopters were killed in the Flagstaff collision, including a patient and the pilot, said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Four others were killed and three critically wounded, Gregor said. He wasn't sure if they were all on the second helicopter or whether some were on the ground.

Both helicopters were Bell 407 models, according to the FAA. One was operated by Air Methods of Englewood, Colo., and the other by Classic Helicopters of Woods Cross, Utah. Neither company returned calls from The Associated Press on Sunday.

The cause of the collision near Flagstaff Medical Center is being investigated. Hospital spokeswoman Starla Addair said she did not have any information to release.

The crash started a 10-acre brush fire that authorities were able to extinguish, said Coconino County sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair.

Two news helicopters collided while covering an auto chase last summer near Phoenix, killing all four people on board.

Flagstaff is about 130 miles north of Phoenix.

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