20 Years Later: Remembering the deadly UK medical helicopter crash

Published: Jun. 14, 2019 at 6:40 PM EDT
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June 14 marks the 20-year anniversary of a deadly medical helicopter crash in eastern Kentucky.

The crash happened in Breathitt County while traveling toward Lexington. A friend of the four who died said he still remembers where he was when he found out something went wrong.

Mike Poynter has gone from being a flight paramedic to being the executive director of the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services during that time, and he saw the crew leave that morning, unaware they wouldn't make it back.

"I can remember clear as a bell," Poynter said.

The crew was coming back after working a day of service in Jackson. In the heavy fog, the helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain, killing pilots Don Greene and Ernie Jones along with flight nurse Sheila Zellers and flight paramedic Brian Hardin.

20 years later, Poynter took a moment to remember his four friends. It is something he has done every year.

"As time went on, it slowly faded a little bit, but still, I’ve had contact this morning from crew members...emails and different social media communications," Poynter said.

The crash hasn't deterred helicopters from being a primary method of emergency medical transportation. There are now 72 licensed across Kentucky.

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