An INAER air ambulance that went missing over Chile on Thursday morning has been found. The plane crashed, and there are no survivors.
Eight people were on-board:
Nicolás Vidal Hamilton-Toovey, pilot
Hernán Soruco Angulo, co-pilot
Esperanza Sáez Díaz, patient
Luis Valenzuela Brito, husband of the patient
Paul Moya Manzor, flight nurse
Juan Cristóbal Rivera, paramedic
Juan Burcherd González, air crew member
Guillermo Severy Traversa, physician
At this time, the cause of the crash is not known.
Chilean aviation authorities have confirmed that the missing air ambulance, a 300-series twin-turboprop Beechcraft Super King Air, crashed near Puerto Aguirre, in the region of shared Argentinian-Chilean territory known as Patagonia. INAER’s CEO said that the pilots and crew had excellent knowledge and expertise, and that the plane was up-to-date regarding all required inspections and documentation.
According to Chile’s General Directorate of Civil Aviation, the air ambulance left on a medical transport from Punta Arenas shortly after 11PM last Wednesday on a nearly 2000 mile trip to Santiago. Just before 1AM, the pilot declared an emergency and contact was lost.
Chile’s Air Force General Juan Gonzalez, who led the search for the aircraft, confirmed that the plane was found completely destroyed in the location where he had triangulated the plane’s last signals. The possibility of finding survivors was ruled out as the impact was calculated to be at a speed of over 280 miles per hour. The main concerns of the search operation were, first, to recover the remains of the victims, and secondly, to allow an in-depth investigation to be conducted.
At this time, based on early information gathered at the crash site, it is believed that it would have been impossible for the plane to have made an emergency landing. The way the plane impacted the rough terrain shows that it must have fallen sharply at a speed between 450 and 500 kilometers per hour (approximately 280 to 310 mph).
A massive search for the plane had been underway since the air ambulance went missing Thursday morning. It was previously unknown whether the plane fell over land or water. The complex, wooded terrain of the section of Patagonia where the plane was believed to have fallen made the search operation more difficult. With the area being uninhabited, there is no road access, and the rugged, stepped terrain would have presented a challenge even for off-road vehicles; the area is only truly accessible by sea or air.
Chile’s Defense Minister had stated that the government would use all available resources to locate the missing air ambulance. It is known that at least three naval vessels, a DHC-6 Twin Otter, a Black Hawk helicopter, and several other Army and National Police aircraft were involved in the search operation.
We at Air Ambulance Weekly wish to send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. All of our thoughts and prayers are with you during this incredibly difficult time.