Three of four members of a Yampa Valley Air Ambulance
crew died late Tuesday night (11 Jan 05) when the
plane crashed near Rawlins, Wyo., Yampa Valley Medical
Center officials reported.
The plane, a 1978 Beech E-90 King Air turbo prop
operated by Mountain Flight Service of Steamboat
Springs, carried a pilot and three Yampa Valley
Medical Center employees.
Emergency Medical Technician Tim Baldwin, 35, the
sole survivor when a Colorado air ambulance crashed
near here, spent an hour and a half giving directions
to his rescuers via cell phone, then waited 2 1/2
hours after his cell phone battery died before he
Baldwin, 35, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., remained
hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday, the
day after his plane
went down in snowy conditions. Although the
plane crashed just 3 1/2 miles northeast of the
airport, rescuers didn't reach the plane for four
hours because of the weather and terrain.
Three others on board died in the crash: pilot
Timothy Benway, 35, of Georgetown, Colo.; medic
David Linner, 36, of Steamboat Springs; and medic
Jennifer Wells, 30, of Kersey, Colo. They were on
their way to Rawlins to pick up a victim of a vehicle
crash for transport to Wyoming Medical Center in
The plane was en route to Rawlins, about 150 miles
north of Steamboat, to transport a patient from
Carbon County Hospital to Wyoming Medical Center
in Casper when it went down around 9:40 p.m., Carbon
County Sheriff Jerry Colson said. An ambulance crew
waiting on the ground in Rawlins to load the patient,
who had been injured in a car accident, reported
the plane as overdue around 10:05 p.m.
Around the same time, Baldwin used a cell phone
to notify emergency personnel that the plane had
Emergency officials mobilized to find the plane,
but were faced with searching in heavy snow in wide-open
sagebrush-covered terrain punctuated by draws and
ridges. Their only clues to the plane's location
were radar tracking of its flight course and the
words of the person on the cell phone, who said
he could hear a train whistle and sirens, according
to the Rawlins Daily Times newspaper.
Agencies from all over the region were called in
to assist with the search and rescue, including
the Rawlins and Sinclair police departments; Rawlins
Search and Rescue, the Carbon County, Rawlins, Hanna
and Sinclair fire departments; the Bureau of Land
Management, the Wyoming Highway Patrol; Rawlins
Ambulance, Emergency Management, civilian volunteers,
Red Cross and France Flying Service, according to
a press release from the Carbon County Sheriff's
More than a dozen people on four-wheelers were
dispatched to search a grid pattern in hopes of
finding the plane. Crews also used two mobile receivers
to find signals from the plane's Emergency Locator
Transmitter, which ultimately lead them to the crash
site just before 2 a.m. The plane was found on the
opposite side of Shark Tooth Ridge from the Rawlins
Municipal Airport, about 3 1/2 miles northeast of
the runway, according to the newspaper.
The location of the crash indicated that Benway,
who reportedly was attempting to make an instrument
landing, was on the correct flight path, but for
unknown reasons went down too soon, according to
the Daily Times.
"All of us at Yampa Valley Medical Center
are deeply saddened and shocked at this tragic loss,"
said Karl Gills, CEO of Yampa Valley Medical Center.
"All of those aboard are committed to providing
extraordinary care to their sick and injured patients.
Our entire organization and those who worked with
the air ambulance program have been impacted."
Yampa Valley Medical Center provides the medical
personnel for the air ambulance flights. Mountain
Flight Service, owned and operated by Bob and Cindy
Maddox, is contracted to operate the air ambulance.
Mountain Flight Service is based at Steamboat Springs
Airport--Bob Adams Field.
Bob Maddox said Benway had been with Mountain Flight
Service for two years and had extensive flying experience
with aircraft similar to the air ambulance.
Linner had been a flight nurse with the air ambulance
since September 2001 and had directed the service
since the spring of 2003. Wells had worked at YVMC
since July and only recently joined the air ambulance
Baldwin has been a member of the air ambulance
crew since April.
It is not yet known what caused Tuesday's crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National
Transportation Safety Board have been notified and
are expected in Rawlins this afternoon. Rawlins
residents said it was snowing heavily at the time
the plane went down, but it is not known what impact
the weather had.
This is the second time in less than two years
that the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance has gone down.
On March 19, 2003, the air ambulance crashed near
Kremmling in an incident that was blamed on pilot
error. The pilot was later terminated. The three
people on the plane in that crash -- including Linner
-- walked away with minor injuries.
The air ambulance was damaged in the 2003 crash
and was replaced with a plane that was dedicated
on May 18, 2003. The replacement plane was a 1978
Beech E-90 outfitted with emergency medical supplies
and equipment for use in transporting patients.