Weather clears, Lifeline copter returns to Indiana

Ice on blades forced pilot to put down on private property in Preble County.

UPDATE @ 9:20 p.m.: The pilot of the IU Health LifeLine helicopter took advantage of a break in the weather and was able to get the aircraft back to the hangar shortly after 9 p.m., IU Health spokesman Gene Ford said.

UPDATE @ 7:52 p.m.: When weather patterns clear and conditions are safe to fly, the aircraft will return to its base at the Richmond Airport, IU Health spokesman Gene Ford said.

A pilot will stay with the aircraft until the situation is resolved. Ford said the aircraft’s medical crew has since returned to their base and are available to respond to patient transport requests by ground, weather permitting.

The team followed textbook operating procedures and completed a precautionary landing without incident, he said.

UPDATE @ 5:23 p.m.: The pilot of the IU Health Lifeline helicopter remains with his aircraft, waiting for a replacement to arrive or for the weather to clear so he can fly back to the hospital in Indianapolis.

He has been instructed not to talk with media. He has spoken with the Monnig family, on whose property he had to put down when ice began forming on his chopper blades.

“It’s not every day you come home to a helicopter in your yard,” Matt Monnig said. “Been here all my life. Never had a helicopter come down here.”

His daughters, Grace and Cora, are excited to see the metal bird that dropped gently out of the sky and into their lives, however briefly.

“I think its’ cool,” Cora said.

FIRST REPORT

After transporting a victim from a head-on crash this morning to Miami Valley Hospital, a medical helicopter out of Richmond grounded itself in Preble County because of the weather.

Indiana University Health’s Lifeline helicopter flew into cold and freezing rain conditions about 10:30 a.m. It was on its way back to its base in Indiana from Miami Valley Hospital when the pilot landed in a field along Preble County Line Road near Lewisburg, according to IU Health spokesman Gene Ford.

The landing was a precautionary measure because ice can form on the helicopter’s blades in those conditions, Ford said.

The helicopter was expected to take flight when the weather let up late this afternoon. The chopper was still on the ground at 5 p.m.

Lifeline was called because of a head-on crash at U.S. 35 and Sycamore Street near Williamsburg, Ind.

One person who was reportedly trapped and suffering serious injuries was taken by Lifeline to MVH.