Looking back on a deadly helicopter crash north of Ventura 11 years later

11 Years Since MercyOne Helicopter Crash, Killing Three

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(ABC 6 News) – On this day back in 2013, three people were killed in a devastating helicopter crash just north of Ventura in Iowa.

The crash still has an impact on the community to this day.

Many say it’s a tragedy they will never forget.

It was a routine flight for Mercy Air Aid helicopter; taking off from Mason City, flying to pick up a patient in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

That ordinary flight, quickly turned to tragedy. The helicopter fell from the sky and crashed into a field, killing all three people on board: Pilot Gene Grell, Nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau, and paramedic Russell Piehl.

“Selfless healthcare workers who gave their life to really providing care to others each and every day.”

11 years later, the tragedy is still raw for many.

“It goes through my mind everyday,” retired Ventura firefighter Andy Linahon said.

Linahon was one of many first responders on scene.

He says the heartbreaking memories and images from that day never go away.

“There was a lot of smoke, of course a lot of debris, it was just we really didn’t know what we were getting into.”

All that remains of the horrific flight meant to save lives is a single cross in the field.

Those that were touched and who remember, say it will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“It’s just tragic for the whole north Iowa area and all the families that were affected and all the departments and stuff that were here that night,” Linahon said.

The cause of the crash was never determined, but the National Transportation Safety board noted that weather may have played a part.

In 2016, one of the victim’s family was awarded $5.6 million following a settlement with the helicopter’s service company, MedTrans.