Federal Investigation of Madison Air Ambulance Crash Begins

Witnesses say they saw flames coming from the helicopter after it hit the ground, but the chief investigator says it's too early to say whether that fire was a cause or an effect of the crash.

Bit by bit, investigators are taking apart the helicopter, trying to find out why it rolled over just after liftoff.

“It is not my place to say what caused the accident because it's too premature,” says John Lovell, NTSB Air Safety Investigator.

John Lovell is with the National Transportation Safety Moard's Miami office. He'll investigate, but the board will determine the cause; that may be six months from now.

Madison fire and rescue workers are always on standby for helicopter lift-offs. Wednesday, that procedure may have saved a life. At Doctors Memorial Hospital in Perry, where the helicopter is based, CEO Jim McNight says a replacement chopper will start flying Friday at 10:00 a.m.

It's standard procedure for a pilot to be grounded until the accident investigation is complete. As for the paramedics, there are several hospital paramedics who can fly with this helicopter.