Bodies of REACT helicopter crew returns to Rockford - – Rockford’s News Leader

Bodies of REACT helicopter crew returns to Rockford


Three heroes make their final journey home with hundreds of people honoring them along the way. The REACT helicopter crew "Completed their Mission" this afternoon.

The occasional siren was all that interrupted the eerily silent drive from Oregon to Rockford Memorial Hospital.

"We see tragic things all the time and it requires a close and a tight team that works together to save people. They bring us people just broken and we do our best to fix them," says Amy Buchenau, Rockford Memorial Hospital emergency department charge nurse.

RMH co-workers are now trying to mend their own broken hearts after losing Andy Olesen, Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis. The three were part of the REACT flight crew that crashed Monday night after attempting to reach a patient in Mendota.

"Anytime an Emergency Services provider goes down in the line of duty our concept is we need to complete the mission," says Anthony Cellitti, RMH EMS System Coordinator.

For their co-workers this procession serves as a chance to honor their friends as many will have to continue saving lives in the hospital as they are laid to rest.

"It means a lot. It's saying goodbye and that we appreciated them dearly," says Arlene Blades, works at RMH.

"We had to be here to pay our respects to our co-workers that we lost, we love and show them they are still in our hearts," says Buchenau.

The patient who the crew had flown out for did make it to RMH. A spokesperson says the Mendota patient was transported by ambulance to their hospital.

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