Helicopter crashes atop UNM Hospital

9:57 p.m.

UNMH is now accepting all patients except for kids without a serious trauma injury, according to a UNMH spokesman.

That means that kids who sustained injuries that are not in the serious trauma category should be taken to other area hospitals.


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A helicopter crashed atop the University of New Mexico Hospital this evening, injuring the pilot but not badly.

Two passengers are now under observation, but there were no patients aboard. UNMH officials said the pilot is listed in stable condition.

UNM spokeswoman Dianne Anderson said the hospital’s top two floors were evacuated as precaution in case there’s structural damage to the building, and patients there were moved within the hospital. There were no injuries reported among hospital staff, she said.

The crash happened about 5:45 p.m. UNMH spokesman Billy Sparks said the helicopter was departing after dropping off a patient. Immediately after takeoff, the helicopter began spinning and then crashed, he said.

The hospital is not accepting all but the most critically injured patients, he said, but has worked out an arrangement with other hospitals in the meantime. Airlifted patients to UNMH, if there are any, will land at Johnson Field as Federal Aviation Administration investigators go through the scene.

The helicopter belongs to Petroleum Helicopters, Inc., which contracts with the hospital to bring patients. Sparks said no UNMH employees or patients were injured.

Those with Thursday appointments or other questions are asked to call 272-4636.

Witnesses at the hospital said they felt a huge gust of wind and heard the helicopter on top of the hospital.

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Jonathan Goss, 20, said he was in a dorm room and heard screeching. He looked out the window and saw black smoke pouring from helicopter.

“In the movies, when a helicopter starts spinning out of control,” he said. “It sounded exactly like that.”

Witnesses say they saw a man rushing across the roof to the helicopter and sprinklers douse the chopper. Firefighters arrived minutes later.

All lanes on Lomas Boulevard are closed from Yale to Girard as firefighters respond.

UNM Hospital is discouraging after hours visitors, and is closed to new patients except for serious trauma. Police said anyone who needs to get to the hospital should go to the North Entrance off Yale.

UNM Hospital officials said families of patients may call 272-INFO (4636) if they have questions.

The helicopter is owned by Petroleum Helicopters, Inc., according to KOAT-TV.

Federal Aviation Administration & National Transportation Safety Board officials are on the way to the scene to investigate the crash.

— This is a developing story. Additional information will be added as it becomes available.

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