Minnesota EMS community turns out to honor nurse killed in Brainerd helicopter crash

Hundreds of people gathered in Howard Lake, including friends, family, and other first responders, to honor the nurse killed when a medical helicopter went down near Brainerd, Minnesota.

Debra Schott was an emergency flight nurse for North Memorial’s Air Care Unit. She was also a wife, mom, grandmother, and classic car aficionado. She was killed last week at the age of 58 when the helicopter she was flying in crashed down in Brainerd.

The pilot at the controls, Tim McDonald, was also killed and a third member of the team was left critically injured. "EMS is a very close-knit community so that it affects us all," explains Kent Koelln, Hennepin EMS.

Friends, family, and fellow emergency responders filled the high school in Howard Lake with love, prayers, and support.

"You learn that good things happen to very good people and bad things happen to very good people," said Koelln. "This happened to a very good person. Obviously, as you can see, she was very well liked, and she’ll be very missed."

Wednesday’s funeral featured several moving tributes for Schott including a helicopter flyover and then a heartbreaking last call from air care dispatch. The farewell concluded with a mass procession of emergency vehicles, mostly ambulances, that had traveled across the state to be here. It is a scene Howard Lake resident Stan Diers won’t soon forget.

"We need to think more about our police, EMTs and firefighters and what they do every day, putting their lives on the line," said Diers. "We need to appreciate them for that."

Schott will be laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at a later date. The governor has also ordered all state flags to be flown at half-staff in her honor.