A pilot and two medical personnel, one with ties to Natchitoches, were killed when a medical helicopter flying to a hospital in eastern Arkansas crashed in a rural area Sunday night. No patients were on board at the time. Pafford Air One identified the victims as pilot Michael Bollen, 46, of Hot Springs, flight nurse James Lawson Spruiell, 61, of Sulligent, Ala., and flight paramedic John “Trey” Auld III, 26, of Shreveport.
During a 911 Commission meeting Tuesday, EMS Director Larry Atteridge advised Auld was a former employee. “He was a great guy who worked for me a couple of years,” he said. Atteridge said Auld was very young when in his employ. “He was a paramedic at 18 or 19 so I hired him, but he couldn’t drive the ambulance yet. We lost a good one in him.”
The cause of the crash is not yet known but federal agencies are investigating. Arkansas County Sheriff Todd Wright said a witness saw the helicopter spiral out of the sky about 7:55 p.m. Sunday, disturbing thousands of geese to the point that “they were louder than she had ever heard before.”
The helicopter crashed on a levee adjacent to Hampton Reservoir near Lodge Corner in Arkansas County, 52 miles southeast of Little Rock. Wright said Monday the helicopter’s tail section was the only portion of the aircraft that did not burn. Pafford Air One says the helicopter was flying from Pine Bluff to a hospital in Helena-West Helena. Spruiell and Auld worked for Pafford Air One, which provides emergency transport in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Bollen was a pilot for Air Methods Corp. FAA records show Bollen had a clean record with no history of accidents or enforcement actions. According to an agency database, Bollen was also certified as a flight instructor. The database also shows no previous accidents or incidents involving the Bell 407 helicopter.
Trey Auld was also a former volunteer firefighter in rural Caddo Parish and was a Duke of Fun with the Krewe of Centaur.