ELKO, Nev. -- American MedFlight has confirmed the loss of three crew members and a patient in an air medical aircraft accident Friday evening in Elko, Nevada.
According to the Elko Police Department, Yuji Irie was piloting the aircraft. Tiffany Urresti and Jake Shepherd were aboard as medical staff. The patient was identified as Edward Clohesey.
Investigators said the airplane experienced mechanical problems shortly after taking off from Elko Regional Airport. The plane lost power and altitude and ultimately crashed into a parking lot of a mining company, where it caught several vehicles on fire.
Jake Shepherd worked as a paramedic in Tooele, according to the Tooele Police Department.
A'go fund me' memorial fund has been set up on his behalf.
Along with a photo of Shepherd is this statement:
"We are devastated by this event and wish we had answers to the many questions being asked at this time. We are cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as they investigate the accident."
American MedFlight released this statement:
"As an air medical family, we are mourning the loss of our crew members and patient. Their families have been notified and they are in our thoughts and prayers. Our priority at this time is to look after the well being of the affected family members and their co-workers and to be responsive to their needs. We ask the media and interested parties to be patient with the investigation process and honor the privacy of the family and friends of those who have lost their lives."
FOX 13 News first received reports of the accident at about 8:35 p.m. MT. The Elko Daily Free Press reports the medical aircraft was headed to the University of Utah Hospital with a heart patient when it went down.
The aircraft, a Piper PA 31 airplane, crashed in the Barrick Gold Corp. parking lot, which is northeast of the Elko Regional Airport, said Allen Kenitzer, with the FAA Office of Communications.
Kenitzer added that local authorities say four people were on board the plane. Kenitzer said there were no ground injuries.
Fox 13 News viewer Tyler Belderrain snapped a photo of the aftermath of the crash around 8:35 p.m. MT Friday. Luis Mata also captured video showing a dramatic scene featuring what sounds like explosions as the fire burns among several cars.
The Elko Daily Free Press reports the crash caused multiple explosions and sent flames into the air near the Gold Dust Casino, a grocery store and a senior housing complex. Several vehicles also caught fire.
Chet Gilbert, the owner of the nearby Sierra Java coffee shop, said his business was closed Friday night but they opened their doors and were offering coffee to people who were evacuated from nearby businesses and restaurants.
The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash.