- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Federal aviation officials are investigating a Medstar helicopter crash yesterday afternoon that injured three crew members and may have contributed to the death of a 51-year-old patient on board.

The crash occurred at about 4:50 p.m. when a medical transport flight from Greater Southeast Community Hospital to the Washington Hospital Center crashed on a golf course near the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Northwest.

The patient, Steven Gaston, 51, was in critical condition before the crash occurred, said Dr. Janis M. Orlowski, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Washington Hospital Center.

Dr. Orlowski would not disclose Mr. Gaston’s symptoms before the crash but said hospital officials were waiting for a medical examiner’s report to determine if the crash contributed to his death.

“Our initial thought, looking at Mr. Gaston and his complicated medical history … there was grave concern that he would not live through the day, and this was before the incident,” she said.

The helicopter’s pilot, Darryl Johnson, 58, suffered a spinal fracture and underwent surgery this morning. Dr. Orlowski said he was in stable condition and was not paralyzed from the injury.

Flight paramedic David Martin, 33, suffered broken ribs and a lower spine injury but did not require surgery.

Flight nurse Nancy Vanderweele, 39, suffered a cervical spine injury as well as fractures in her shoulder and left tibia.

Dr. Orlowski said Miss Vanderweele will have to wear a cervical collar for about two months but that she and Mr. Martin are both in stable condition.

“They are alert, they are responding and participating in our current discussions,” Dr. Orlowski said.

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