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Safety equipment missing on downed chopper near La Crosse

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New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond News
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A lot has been said about the lack of safety equipment on a med-flight chopper leased by University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But the craft's owner could not say if the equipment could have avoided Saturday night's crash near La Crosse that killed the pilot and two medics.

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The Air Methods Corp., of Denver owns the craft. It said the craft was scheduled to get night vision goggles and a high-tech system for avoiding terrain but it had not happened yet.

The firm says it's updating all 330 of its medical craft, but only 40 percent of the effort is complete. The rest should be done by 2011.

Officials said the equipment costs about $100,000 per chopper.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board says it might take months to determine the cause of the crash that killed surgeon Darren Bean, nurse Mark Coyne, and pilot Steve Lipperer.

The helicopter crashed near a wooded bluff, and wreckage was scattered for 600 feet downhill from where it landed.

The pieces will be taken to La Crosse this week for further inspections.

Officials said the craft was not high enough to be spotted on radar.

It did not have a black data-recording box, and it was not required to.

The crew had just dropped off a patient in La Crosse and was on its way back to Madison when the crash occurred.

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