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Final report says pilot error to blame for Alexandria helicopter crash

Three people were injured after this North Memorial Care helicopter crashed into the trees on the east side of Lake Winona in Alexandria early Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Forum News Service file photo

ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—A final report from the federal agency investigating an air ambulance helicopter crash in Alexandria showed pilot error as the ultimate cause of the crash.

Three crew members were injured in the crash about 2 a.m. Sept. 17, 2016. No patients were on board.

The helicopter operated by North Memorial Air Care had taken off from Brainerd and was destined for Douglas County Hospital but diverted to Alexandria Municipal Airport as heavy fog developed.

The final report, released this week, said the airport's air traffic controller lost contact with the pilot Joshua Jones as it approached the airport. The helicopter crashed into some trees and into the yard of a home along Lake Winona, just north of the airport.

The report said the maneuvers required by the pilot "are difficult when performed in night conditions with no visual references."

Flight paramedic Miles Weske of Nisswa sustained the most serious injuries in the crash, which also injured flight nurse Scott Scepaniak and Jones.

North Memorial is based in Brooklyn Center.

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