A nurse rescuing an injured woman from a Central Texas hiking trail tumbled to her death from a spinning hoist suspended from a medical helicopter, according to a federal report released Tuesday.
The preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report on the April 27 incident that killed Kristin McLain did not specify a cause for the spin or fall, nor did it say how far she fell to the ground.
Normal equipment checks were completed by the STAR Flight crew prior to the rescue at the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin, the NTSB report said.
McLain, 46, had secured the patient in a carrier and the two of them were hooked up to the hoist and suspended from the EC-145 helicopter when the hoist began to spin, according to the report.
"Once the flight nurse and patient cleared the trees, they began a steady spin. To arrest the spin, the pilot started moving the helicopter forward," the report said. "The hoist operator stated that the spin had almost stopped, and he noticed that the flight nurse was riding in a position lower than normal."
McLain then fell from the line, the report said.
McLain, originally from Colorado, was dead at the scene. The report does not say how far she fell.
STAR Flight did not release the name of the rescued woman, who was taken to an Austin hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
An Associated Press reporter on Tuesday left messages seeking comment from Travis County Emergency Services, which operates STAR Flight.
Video and a voice recorder-system from the helicopter were sent to the NTSB as part of the investigation, the agency said.
Air Ambulance Returns to Service
A Texas air ambulance service is returning to the air.
STAR Flight program director Casey Ping said its aircraft will resume emergency medical service flights at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
However, Ping told reporters Tuesday that the service won't fly any search and rescue missions for the time being.
STAR Flight grounded its fleet after McLain fell to her death.