NTSB Blames Pilot in Fatal Air Angels Crash

Four people died when chopper clipped Aurora radio tower in 2008

The pilot of an Air Angels emergency medical services helicopter has been blamed for a fatal 2008 crash which killed all aboard, including a 14-month-old girl who was being flown to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

In a report, the National Transportation Safety Board says "inadequate preflight planning" and flying too low, contributed to the incident, where the helicopter struck a radio tower in west suburban Aurora.

The NTSB said pilot Delbert Waugh should have identified any obstacles which would have been in his path as he flew from the chopper's departure airport at Sandwich, Illinois, to Chicago.

The helicopter struck the 734 foot tower in the pre-dawn hours of October 15, 2008, killing Waugh,14-month old Kirsten Blockinger, nurse William Mann, Jr., and paramedic Ronald Battiato.

In the 11 months between December of 2007 and the Aurora crash, 35 people died in nine medical helicopter crashes nationwide, making 2008 the deadliest year on record.

The crashes prompted the NTSB to hold a four-day hearing last year.  A plan to put a helipad atop Children Memorial Hospitals new Streeterville location has drawn intense criticism.

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