UPDATE: Medical helicopter crashes in Iowa

Published On: Jan 03 2013 06:25:24 AM CST   Updated On: Jan 03 2013 06:25:00 AM CST

Authorities have identified two of three people who were killed when a medical helicopter crashed into a northern Iowa field.

Witnesses told deputies that the helicopter burst into flames when it went down around 9 p.m. Wednesday just north of Ventura in Cerro Gordo County. The aircraft was affiliated with Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa and had been headed to Emmetsburg to pick up a patient.

The hospital identified two of the victims: nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau and paramedic Russell Piehl.

The pilot was not identified. The helicopter was operated by a Lewisville, Texas-based service company, Med-Trans Air Medical Transport. Company officials didn't immediately return messages left Thursday by The Associated Press.

Sheriff Kevin Pals says the crash cause is being investigated.


Three people are dead after a medical helicopter flying out of Mason City, Iowa, crashed into a field, authorities say.

Cerro Gordo County Sheriff's Department Lt. Matt Klunder said the helicopter was affiliated with Mercy Medical Center and that a pilot and two nurses were killed.

Klunder said the crash occurred about 9 p.m. Wednesday near Ventura, Iowa.

The identities of the victims were not released, and the cause of the crash was under investigation.