Patient saved by pilot Andy Olesen reacts to helicopter crash - – Rockford’s News Leader

Patient saved by pilot Andy Olesen reacts to helicopter crash

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The three crew members who died in Monday's REACT helicopter crash saved lives through their work. One of those three, pilot Andy Olesen also changed a life forever.

June 22nd 2010 is a day Chris Paul will never forget. He almost lost his leg and could have even lost his life after a motorcycle accident that evening. Andy Olesen was the helicopter pilot the night Chris was air-lifted to Rockford Memorial Hospital. After recovering, his gift of life inspired Chris to give back.

"I thought, 'How can I turn something so horrific and so bad into something good?'" -says Chris.

Chris Paul volunteered at Rockford Memorial Hospital doing "friendship visits."

"That's where you go the rooms and you see patients and you try to give them encouragement and hope, because I unfortunately remember what it's like to sit in a hospital bed for so long." -he adds.

By giving his time, Chris got to accomplish another goal, meeting his hero Andy Olesen. Chris and his wife were volunteering Christmas Day 2011. They met a nurse who told them Olesen was in the REACT hangar. Chris paid a visit, thanked Andy for saving his life, and got to see the helicopter used the night of his accident. Olesen's wife Patricia says Andy loved reuniting with his patients.

"He met a lot of people, some of them even called him or wrote back to him later on and thanked him for his service." -she says.

Chris' heart sank when he heard Andy Olesen died in the crash. He's devastated and his thoughts go to Rockford Health System.


"They lost a hero, they lost a gentleman who was kind and passionate about saving people. They can't replace someone like that." -he says.

Chris did get to meet one of the flight nurses from his accident, Lois Hinton, this week. They both shared a moment together remembering Andy Olesen.

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