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Victims identified in deadly Brainerd helicopter crash

Updated: June 29, 2019 09:38 PM

UPDATE: 

North Memorial Health has confirmed the identities of the victims. Tim McDonald, pilot, and Deb Schott, nurse, died at the scene. Josh Duda, paramedic, was injured. 

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A Go Fund Me launched to benefit McDonald's family can be accessed here.


A pilot and a nurse died in an early-morning helicopter crash Friday at Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, officials said.

According to a statement issued by North Memorial, three North Memorial Health crew members were on board at the time of the crash, which was about 1 a.m.

Officials said the helicopter's pilot and a nurse were reported dead at the scene.

Gary Schott confirmed with KSTP that his wife, Deb Schott, was the nurse who died in the crash.

"It's hard to believe that this happens," said Wayne Goodell, who lives right across the street from the Schott's. "You hear about them a lot but when they hit closer to home, people you really know, you think a lot more about it." 

Wayne Goodell says everyone in the community liked Schott, and she will be greatly missed.

"I'm going to miss her, I really am, I'm going to miss the idea of her just being around," Goodell said.

The third crew member, a paramedic, was transported to St. Joseph's Medical Center.

No patients were on board when the crash happened.

RELATED: Same model of helicopter that crashed in Brainerd involved in previous incidents, injuries

"The FAA and NTSB have been notified, and we will fully cooperate with both agencies during their investigation of the incident," a North Memorial spokeswoman said in a statement. "North Memorial Health is grateful for the expertise and efforts of the first responders who came to the accident scene including the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office, Brainerd Police and Fire Departments and Baxter Police Department."

Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Director Steve Wright said the helicopter was small and that there was relatively no debris following the crash. However, Wright wouldn't confirm if the helicopter was responding to a call or coming back to the airport when it crashed, but did question the affect overnight weather had on the situation.

"It was foggy at the time, so visibility was very minimal," Wright said.

Wright also said the crew would be able to use instrument approaches to find the runway. He explained that helicopters approach the airport in a similar way that planes to, but that they then hover just above the ground to their specific hanger.

The impacts of the crash are far reaching. Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes said several people on his crew who responded to the scene know the three victims personally.

"Those individuals that passed away were doing the same thing we were doing everyday," Holmes said. "They are our friends and partners that we work with on a regular basis."

A preliminary FAA crash report indicated the Agusta A109 helicopter "crashed under unknown circumstances."

In 2016, an air ambulance heading from Brainerd to Alexandria crashed just before landing to pick up a patient.

Three crew members on board were critically injured at the time.

North Memorial Health is one of two medical helicopters based at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.


RELATED: 3 crew members critically injured in Alexandria helicopter crash

RELATED: Survivors of medical chopper crash talk about recovery


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Credits

Rebecca Omastiak

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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