The patient aboard the SkyLife medical helicopter that crashed Thursday night near McFarland, killing all four aboard, was identified Monday as a 40-year-old Springville woman.
Kathryn Ann Brown was being transported from Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville to San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield when the helicopter went down.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
Brown was identified Monday morning by the Kern County coroner.
Authorities earlier identified the crew as pilot Thomas Hampl, 49, an employee of Rogers Helicopters; critical-care nurse Marco Lopez, 42, of Hanford, a three-year SkyLife veteran; and paramedic Kyle Juarez, 37, of Fresno, a nine-year veteran at American Ambulance who spent the last three years on the SkyLife team.
Everyone felt very comfortable flying with him.
Lisa Epps, SkyLife program director, talking about pilot Thomas Hampl
Lopez had been a military nurse in the Navy and was a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy Reserve.
He enlisted in 1991 and was on active duty for five years before joining the Navy Reserve unit at Lemoore Naval Air Station, the base said.
In 2006, he was sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Germany in support of Operation Noble Eagle/Enduring Freedom. He worked in the intensive care unit for wounded military service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Every single member of our team is affected by this loss and he will be missed,” Cmdr. Kenneth White said. “He was an integral part of our Navy family.”
“He loved his job,” SkyLife program director Lisa Epps said. “He wanted to be on SkyLife. He was easygoing and a great employee.”
Lopez liked his job so much that he nominated his supervisor at SkyLife for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award, given by the Navy Reserve, the Navy said.
In June, company officials went to Lemoore Naval Air Station to receive it.
“Marco and the Navy Reserve presented the award to us as patriotic employers,” Epps said.
Lopez is survived by two children, a boy, 16, and a girl, 10.
Juarez was a nationally certified flight paramedic, which involves a program of study and passing an exam, she said.
“He had a passion for his job and for helping people,” Epps said.
He also was the proud father of a boy, 5, and a girl, 4, and always made sure to speak with them on the phone if he couldn’t see them during his shift, she said.
Hampl, the helicopter pilot, lived with his wife and two children in Bend, Ore.
“He was a nice man and a dedicated pilot,” Epps said. “Everyone felt very comfortable flying with him. My medical crew trusted him. He was a great pilot.”
Rogers Helicopters issued a statement Monday.
“The focus of our efforts at this time is to attend to the need of our passengers, our crew and their families, and to work with the NTSB and local public safety officials to determine the cause and the extent of this accident,” the statement said.
Sierra View Medical Center will hold a candlelight vigil at 6:52 p.m. Thursday in honor of the Skylife air ambulance crew and the patient.