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Thanks to reader Daniel Cunningham for sending along this story.
A person was stabbed Friday morning in Islamorada, and the helicopter air ambulance sent from Marathon to take the victim to a Miami-Dade hospital caught fire before landing on an Upper Keys soccer field to pick up the patient.
The helicopter that caught fire is one of Monroe County’s three Trauma Star air ambulances and the oldest in the fleet, said county communications officer Cammy Clark.
The chopper landed safely at Coral Shores High School at mile marker 89.9 on Plantation Key around 7 a.m., Clark said, but other arrangements had to be made to transport the patient to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.
Monroe County’s oldest Trauma Star – of its three-helicopter ambulance fleet – was enroute to Coral Shores High School for a trauma transport when it caught fire during landing at about 7 a.m. Friday. There were no injuries.
The patient who was going to be picked up was instead transported by ground ambulance to nearby Mariners Hospital, which is about a mile away. The patient was air lifted from there by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and transported to a mainland hospital.
The fire caused substantial damage to the 35-year-old aircraft, which had just undergone its complete annual maintenance as required by FAA.
The oldest Trauma Star is used as a backup. It was being used today because the second Trauma Star is not in service for routine maintenance. The second Trauma Star is expected to be back in service by Monday. The County’s newest Trauma Star is in service.
The incident will be investigated by FAA and Monroe County’s Trauma Star aviation division.