Sheriff’s office: Pilot, flight nurse killed in air ambulance crash, flight medic survives

The CBS 5 News helicopter photographed a portion of the remote site in the Superstition Mountains where a medical transportation helicopter crashed Dec. 15. (Courtesy of CBS 5 News)

The CBS 5 News helicopter photographed a portion of the remote site in the Superstition Mountains where a medical transportation helicopter crashed Dec. 15. (Courtesy of CBS 5 News)


The names of the three Native Air Ambulance crew members in the medical transportation helicopter that crashed Dec. 15 have been released.

Pilot David Schneider, 51, of Gilbert, and flight nurse Chad Frary, 38, of Mesa, were fatally injured in the crash. Flight paramedic Derek Boehm, 38, of Gilbert, is the sole survivor and is listed in fair condition at a local hospital, according to a press release from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the deaths as the result of their helicopter going down at approximately 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 in a remote area of the Superstition Mountains about 12 miles north of Superior.

Sheriff Paul Babeu said in a Wednesday morning press conference, “We ask for prayers for the families of the crew members aboard. This is a medical crew who helps people each and every day and now has gone down in this tragic incident.”

During the press conference, Sheriff Babeu provided the following timeline of events:

•On Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m., the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office communications center received a call from Native Air asking if there were reports of a helicopter crash. They were told that none had been reported at the time.

•At 8:18 p.m., the dispatch center received a call from the Arizona Department of Public Safety advising the sheriff’s office that Native Air had requested assistance in locating a missing helicopter that had left the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, flying to Globe. Pinal County deputies responded to the reported area where last contact was made with the flight, but were unable to the remote location by ground.

*At 8:27 p.m., Native Air representatives advised DPS that they had found the crash site of their downed helicopter in a rugged area of the Superstition Mountains and had dropped off two of their medical staff on the ground nearby, who were making their way to the crash site.

•At 9 p.m., Arizona DPS advised the sheriff’s office that they had located the crash site and were unable to land; however, they were signaled with a flashlight from the ground by a survivor of the crash. The U.S. Air Force was called to assist in extracting the survivor from the crash site.

•At 10:15 p.m., an Air Force helicopter extracted the lone survivor from the crash site and flew him to a Phoenix trauma center.

•At sunrise on Wednesday morning, PCSO Search and Rescue personnel were airlifted to the crash site to secure the wreckage and recover the two deceased crew members. The recovery operations continue.

PCSO is assisting the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration with their investigation of the helicopter crash. The federal investigators will make determination of the cause of the crash upon completion of their investigation, Sheriff Babeu said.

Editor’s note: Through partnership Independent Newspapers is publishing a photograph provided by CBS 5 News. The story can be found here:

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