Three die in air ambulance crash

Emergency technician Tim Baldwin hospitalized, expected to recover

— Three of four members of a Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crew died late Tuesday night when their 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.

Pilot Tim Benway, 35, was killed. Also killed were air ambulance director and flight nurse Dave Linner, 36, and flight nurse Jennifer Wells, 30.

Emergency Medical Technician Tim Baldwin, 35, survived the crash and was taken to Carbon County Hospital in Rawlins in critical condition.

On Wednesday morning, Baldwin was flown to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, where he is listed in serious condition. He is expected to recover.

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 at about 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 at about 10:05 p.m.

The ambulance crew became concerned about the plane after the lights to the runway were turned on by the pilot and then went off without the plane landing. The pilot also had not terminated the flight plan, Rawlins Municipal Airport Fixed Based Operator Dwight France said.

Rescue crews were gearing up to start a search when Baldwin used a cell phone to notify the Yampa Valley Medical Center that the plane had crashed. The hospital contacted the Carbon County Sheriff's Office, which kept up the three-way communication for more than an hour and half before the cell phone died, Colson said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration investigated the plane crash late Wednesday afternoon, but windy conditions and disappearing daylight lead them to call off the investigation before much was determined.

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