Duke Life Flight helicopter crashes in NC, four fatalities confirmed

PERQUIMANS COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Four people were killed when a Duke Life Flight helicopter crashed in Perquimans County Friday.

The helicopter went down around 11:32 a.m. in the area of Swamp Road and Sandy Cross Road, according to authorities.

First responders found the wreckage and extinguished flames at the scene. The U.S. Coast Guard searched the area from the sky while law enforcement looked for survivors on the ground. Search efforts have been suspended.

Perquimans County Sheriff Shelby White says there were four people on board the helicopter.

Gallery: Duke Life Flight helicopter crash scene

Duke Health News has identified the three employees who died in the crash as Kris Harrison, R.N., Flight Nurse; Crystal Sollinger, R.N., Flight Nurse, and Jeff Burke, Pilot in Command.

Photo courtesy: http://lifeflight.duhs.duke.edu/

A Sentara spokesman says the Duke Life Flight departed from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center in Elizabeth City and was headed to Duke Medical Center when it crashed.

“I got right up on the scene earlier,” said Jason Winslow. “It didn’t look good at all.”

Sheriff White says at least one person witnessed the crash.

North Carolina Emergency Management and several other agencies are investigating. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are scheduled to arrive in Perquimans on Saturday.

The wreckage will be cleared Saturday as well. There will be security monitoring the crash site throughout the night.

Duke health officials provided the following statement to WAVY.com:

With deep sorrow we can confirm that a Duke Life Flight helicopter crashed early this afternoon near Belvidere, North Carolina.  We are in the process of directly confirming information related to this incident and will share more information as it becomes available.”

Sentara Albemarle Medical Center President Coleen Santa Ana released this statement Friday:

We are deeply saddened by the loss of our patient and the dedicated professionals from Duke Life Flight. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the patient who was lost and to those closest to the crew members. We also extend our sincere sympathies to Duke University Medical Center on the loss of their colleagues. This tragedy reminds us of the devotion of healthcare professionals to the service of others.”

10 On Your Side is reaching out to authorities in the area for more information. Stay tuned for updates to this breaking news.