NTSB: Mid-Air Stunt Causes Fatal EagleMed Crash, Lone Survivor Speaks Out

Thursday, May 9th 2013, 9:46 pm
By: News 9

A mid-air stunt is being blamed for a deadly helicopter crash near Kingfisher almost three years ago.

The NTSB is just now sharing details about what led to the crash that killed pilot Al Harrison and nurse Ryan Duke. The lone survivor, paramedic Michael Eccard, has stayed quiet about what really happened until now.

Even though Eccard went through a windshield and was thrown 50 yards from the wreckage, he says he recalls everything. What he says caused the crash is very quickly becoming a legal and PR nightmare for EagleMed, LLC.

"It was horrible," Eccard said. "It was traumatic, it was loud … it was heartbreaking all in one."

On July 22, 2010, the trio was flying from Oklahoma City's Integris Baptist Medical Center to pick up a patient about 70 miles away in Okeene. The crew only made it halfway. Following the crash, Eccard spoke with the NTSB, and now he's talking with News 9.

"I realized that I was the only survivor and that there was a fire, and it was coming my way," Eccard said.

5/9/2013 Related Story: NTSB: Helicopter Pilot's Medical History Questioned After Fatal Kingfisher Crash

Eccard says right before the crash he left his seat to secure an ajar door. That's when he and his crewmates started talking about a low-flying maneuver used to scare and chase coyotes during hunts. At that point, Eccard says pilot Harrison called out, "like this … (with some laughter)" and tilted the helicopter's nose down.

"From that point, we went into a straight dive, and I was bounced around the aircraft pretty good," Eccard said. "I didn't expect to survive once we made impact."

The NTSB report says when Harrison pulled up from the fall, he hit a tree, resulting in the crash. Eccard says most of the report was no surprise, but something he learned Thursday he says was a "big shocker."

Traces of numerous prescription drugs including hydrocodone were found in Harrison's blood. The NTSB says Harrison never reported that to the FAA. Now Eccard is suing EagleMed and says his life will never be the same.

"It's with me every second of every day," Eccard said. "The biggest thing I want to come out of this is lessons learned."

Eccard's legal team has not yet determined how much money they will be seeking from EagleMed, LLC. Last month, Integris Health terminated its relationship with EagleMed, pointing to safety as its number one priority.

7/22/2010: Related Story: 2 Dead, 1 Injured in Medical Helicopter Crash