Family of Baby Girl Killed in Chopper Crash 'Celebrates Her Life However Short' - NBC New York

Family of Baby Girl Killed in Chopper Crash 'Celebrates Her Life However Short'

Relatives mourn victims of deadly helicopter crash as investigators continue probe



    Relatives of a 14-month-old baby girl who died in the Aurora helicopter crash made the tearful journey to the site of the fiery crash as investigators continued to probe what caused the chopper to collide with a radio tower wire and crash into a field -- killing all four on board.

    The mother of little Kirstin Blockinger brought a teddy bear and bouquet of pink roses to the site where she and grief-stricken relatives of the three crew members who perished in the fiery crash gathered to mourn their loss.

    "We love Kirstin and celebrate her life, however short," said Kirstin's grandfather, Steve Ogletree.

    Investigators are looking into what caused the Air Angels helicopter bound for a Chicago hospital to clip the wire of a 730-foot radio tower, tumble to the ground and then explode. The force of the crash left little of the helicopter. 

    The Bell 222 helicopter the crew members and the little girl to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago from Valley West Hospital in Sandwich, Ill. when it went down around midnight Wednesday, police said.

    Kirstin, who suffered from a seizure disorder, had been treated at various hospitals since she was 5 months old. This was the first time she had been airlifted for treatment.

    The victims were identified as pilot Dell Waugh, 69,  of Carmel, Ind.; nurse William Mann, 31, of Chicago;  and medic Ronald Battiato, 41, of Peotone, Ill. 

    "We lost something special," said the father of the nurse on board the chopper as he tearfully embraced family members. "{he was} the finest man you'd ever want to meet in the world."

    Witnesses told the Beacon News that they saw an orange arc and then an explosion in the sky as the chopper struck the WBIG-AM radio. A piece of the helicopter's propeller was spotted a quarter mile from the crash site, the paper reported.  

    "You could hear the helicopter really, really loud," Keith Pudlewski, 33, told the Chicago Tribune.  "And the next thing you know you hear 'boom.'"

    Emergency respondents to the scene were deeply saddened. Many of them worked very closely with the crew of the helicopter and considered them to be friends.

    Joe DePaulo, manager of Clow Airport, where the Air Angels are based, said he knew the pilot, who had been shot down in Vietnam several times. To get through all that and then have something like this happen "is just a shame," DePaulo said.  

    He said he feels as if they've lost family in this crash, adding that it's hard to understand what happened.

    John Brannen of the National Transportation Safety Board said at a morning news conference that the focus of the investigation is currently on the wreckage.

    There were no mechanical problems with the aircraft before take-off and weather was not an issue. Shortly after airport dispatchers lost contact with the pilot the police told the company the helicopter had crashed, authorities said.

    She was initially headed to Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, however there was no room for the infant there, Pesch said. The helicopter crashed west of Winfield.



    Nearly 1,000 people were urged to evacuate their homes near the site of a downed medical chopper Thursday night due to structural problems with the radio tower involved in the crash.