Mercy Medical Center North Iowa
Mercy Air Med Helicopter Tragedy
Start Date
Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa is devastated to confirm that its medical helicopter, Mercy Air Med, went down en route to Emmetsburg at about 9:00 p.m. Wednesday.

The three people on board – a nurse, Shelly (Shell) Lair-Langenbau; a paramedic, Russell (Russ) Piehl, and a pilot with Med-Trans, the helicopter service, did not survive the incident. There was not a patient on board.

“I know their colleagues in healthcare are grieving the loss with their loved ones,” said Dan Varnum, President/CEO, Mercy – North Iowa. “The entire organization and I send prayers to all who knew them. They were committed and dedicated to serving the people of Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota.

“They were each selfless healthcare professionals devoted to the delivery of emergency medical care. While they fulfilled significant duties, they played a greater role as our neighbors and friends.”

The cause of the incident is unknown. Mercy – North Iowa is working closely with law enforcement officials and the FAA who are investigating the accident.

Members of Mercy – North Iowa’s Spiritual Care Department and counselors were available Wednesday and will continue to be available to provide support.