Panhandle Helicopter Ambulance Crashes into Bay; Three Missing

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Two bodies have been recovered from the crash of a helicopter used as an air ambulance into a bay in the Panhandle.

A third person is still missing from the early morning accident.

No patients were aboard the helicopter, which is owned by Sacred Heart Hospital in Santa Rosa Beach. On board were the pilot, a nurse and a paramedic.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the Eurocopter B0105 departed from its hangar in Santa Rosa Beach at 12:40 a.m. Central Time. It was bound for DeFuniak Springs, about 25 miles away, to bring back a critically ill heart patient.

Four minutes later, the pilot radioed he was aborting the mission because of bad weather and expected to land back at the hangar in 10 minutes. That was the last communication from the helicopter.

A debris field was found in Choctawhatchee Bay. The crash site is near the US 331 bridge that crosses the bay in Walton County, about 75 miles east of Pensacola.