NTSB report: Low, thick fog reported at time of fatal Brainerd helicopter crash

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Low, thick fog was reported at the time of a helicopter crash that crashed and killed two people last month in Brainerd, according to a newly released NTSB report.

The North Memorial helicopter crashed at the Brainerd Lakes Airport just before 1 a.m. June 28, killing the pilot and a nurse on board. A paramedic was seriously injured in the crash. No patients were aboard the helicopter.

The paramedic, Josh Duda, told NTSB investigators that the runway surface and lights were visible below a thin layer of fog as the pilot approached the landing. Duda described to investigators what the pilot said he saw in the moments before the crash.

“He noticed a few clouds to the side of the helicopter and recalled the pilot remarking that the weather conditions were foggy, and they would need to go-around,” says the report of Duda’s recollection.

According to the report, the next thing Duda noticed was the helicopter spin to the right and impact the ground.

Visibility at the time of the crash was 0.25 miles and the cloud ceiling was as low as 200 feet, the NTSB report said.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage and the wreckage was transported to Washington, D.C. for further evaluation by the NTSB.

After the crash, North Memorial grounded its fleet out of respect for the victims of the crash and the EMS community mourned those lost in the crash.

Families, including that of nurse Deb Schott, who died in the crash, mourned the loss of their loved ones.

Gov. Tim Walz ordered flags at half-staff in honor of the victims of the crash.

The pilot of the crash, Tim McDonald, was laid to rest at a funeral service in Lakeville Tuesday.

This story was reported from Eden Prairie, Minn.