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North Memorial helicopter crash injures three crew members

ALEXANDRIA, Minn.--Three people are in critical condition after an air ambulance helicopter crashed near the Alexandria airport early Saturday. A North Memorial Health Care helicopter crashed en route to the Alexandria airport at 2:07 a.m., accor...

Helicopter crash
Access to the scene of a helicopter crash was closed Saturday in Alexandria. The crash occurred just after 2 a.m. near Lake Winona. (Will Benson | Echo Press)

ALEXANDRIA, Minn.-Three people are in critical condition after an air ambulance helicopter crashed near the Alexandria airport early Saturday.

A North Memorial Health Care helicopter crashed en route to the Alexandria airport at 2:07 a.m., according to a statement from North Memorial.

Three North Memorial crew members were injured. There were no patients on board.

Access to the crash site at 1438 Lakeside Drive was blocked by authorities Saturday. The crash site is near the eastern shore of Lake Winona and north of the Alexandria Municipal Airport.

North Memorial said the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified.

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"I am extremely proud of our team members for their response at the site," Dr. J. Kevin Croston, CEO of North Memorial Health Care said in a news release. "Our immediate concern is with our crew members who are now being treated at North Memorial Medical Center. We are glad they are here. There is no better place to receive care."

Shortly after 2 a.m., the Douglas County Sheriff's office received a 911 call of a possible helicopter crash on the east side of Lake Winona.

North Memorial ambulance transported the three patients from the scene to Douglas County Hospital, according to Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen.

The three patients were treated and then transferred to North Memorial in the Twin Cities.

Douglas County Hospital was notified of the medical helicopter crash and immediately activated its Emergency Response Plan, calling in staff to assist in the response, according to Carl Vaagenes, the hospital's CEO.

"I am extremely proud of the response and performance from our staff and physicians who were working and everyone who responded to the emergency," said Vaagenes.

Douglas County Sheriff's deputies, Alexandria Police Department and the Alexandria Fire Department also responded.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

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