RHS holds public memorial for chopper crash victims - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford Health System holds public memorial for chopper crash victims

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The lives of the three REACT medical helicopter crew members lost in a crash in Lee County are honored and remembered during a public service.

Hundreds turned out for the public memorial service at Rock Valley College Wednesday morning for Pilot Andy Olesen and Flight Nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis. The three REACT Crew members died when their chopper went down on their way to Mendota to pick up a critical patient.

The Rev. William Wentink opened the service saying, "The crew didn't give their lives, their lives were taken doing God's work helping the sick."

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey spoke next, remembering the time a REACT crew helped his pregnant wife. Morrissey told the crowd, "It's our turn to give back. They're heroes and will be remembered."

REACT Medical Director Robert Escarza, REACT Flight Nurse Tom Walsh, and REACT Flight Nurse Kristi Lohmar also spoke in remembrance of their fallen friends and colleagues.

The NTSB is leading the investigation into the crash, focusing on weather conditions, Olesen's flight history and medical records, dispatch communications, and the helicopter's maintenance records. A preliminary report could be finished soon, but the NTSB doesn't expect to know the cause of the crash for about a year to 18 months.

13 News will bring you full coverage from the memorial tonight on 13 News at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 and will post video of the entire service as soon as possible on WREX.com.

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