JALAPA, S.C. (AP) – A medical helicopter crashed Tuesday just after picking up a woman injured in a hit and run accident, killing her and the three others on board.

The Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System helicopter crashed in a heavily wooded area just off Interstate 26, hospital spokeswoman Betsy McMillan said.

Newberry County Emergency Medical Services had requested the helicopter for a pedestrian who was injured at a highway rest stop.

The woman had a broken leg and chest injuries, Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said.

Truck driver Johnny Williamson, who had stopped at the rest area for a nap, watched the helicopter take off.

“When it got above the trees, we heard a boom and we didn’t see it again,” Williamson said.

Foster said the helicopter wasn’t in the air more than 20 seconds and crashed about 1,000 yards off the highway.

“There was a little bit of fire. The chopper was totally destroyed,” Williamson said. “I’ve seen a lot of wrecks on the interstate and stuff like that, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Bulldozers were used to clear a path to the wreckage.

The identity of the patient was not immediately released. Also killed were the pilot, Bob Giard, 41; flight nurse Glenda Tessnear, 38; and paramedic David S. Bacon, 31, McMillan said.

There was no word on what caused the crash, which happened during fair weather, McMillan said.

Representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration were en route to investigate, Chief Deputy Jerry Wright said.

Jalapa is 50 miles northwest of Columbia.

AP-ES-07-13-04 1214EDT



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