Community members reflect on 10th anniversary of fatal air ambulance crash | SteamboatToday.com

Community members reflect on 10th anniversary of fatal air ambulance crash

Scott Franz

— A decade after he was seriously injured in a Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crash that killed three of his colleagues, Tim Baldwin still loves working in the field of emergency medicine.

A large crowd listens to Bob Maddox as he recognizes the crew of a Yampa Valley Air Ambulance plane that crashed Jan. 11, 2005, while making its final approach at the Rawlins Airport. The plane, which was en route to Rawlins to transport a patient from Carbon County Hospital to Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, crashed as it made its approach into the airport. Pilot Tim Benway, air ambulance director and flight nurse Dave Linner and flight nurse Jennifer Wells died in the crash. Tim Baldwin, an emergency medical technician at the time, survived the crash and was on hand for Friday's ceremony recognizing the 10-year anniversary of the crash.John F. Russell

“It’s in my blood,” Baldwin, a paramedic for a new local air ambulance service, said Friday as he stood alongside Yampa Valley Medical Center staff, family members and other community members to remember and celebrate the dedicated medical professionals who perished or were injured in the 2005 Yampa Valley Air Ambulance plane crash.

Baldwin and pilot Tim Benway, air ambulance director Dave Linner and flight nurse Jennifer Wells were flying from Steamboat Springs to Wyoming to pick up a patient injured in a car crash when their plane crashed during a snowstorm.

Baldwin was the only survivor.

“I still love the work,” Baldwin continued.

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Bob Maddox, who owned the flight service that operated the air ambulance, pointed out in an emotional speech at the hospital’s Memorial Statue that many people impacted by the crash either went on to pursue careers in emergency medicine aimed at helping people or continue to work in the field.

He praised the dedication it takes for a person to answer the call and do a job that carries many risks.

Maddox said the plane crash victims’ legacy of helping people lives on, and their dedication and compassion will never be forgotten.

Hospital staff, friends and family members of the air ambulance crew hugged, caught up with one another and shared stories at the ceremony Friday afternoon.

Maddox said he thinks about the crash every day, and he’s struck by how raw the tragedy still feels.

Paula Golden, the hospital’s director of emergency and trauma services, said the flight crew and their dedication to the mission was unforgettable.

She then read a poem from Gary Claude Stoker.

It reads:

“Flight is freedom in its purest form,

To dance with the clouds which follow a storm;

To roll and glide, to wheel and spin,

To feel the joy that swells within.

To leave the earth with its troubles and fly,

And know the warmth of a clear spring sky;

Then back to earth at the end of the day,

Released from the tensions which melted away.

Should my end come while I am in flight,

Whether brightest day or darkest night;

Spare me no pity and shrug off the pain,

Secure in the knowledge that I’d do it again.

For each of us is created to die,

And within me I know,

I was born to fly.”

The audience then turned around to see two helicopters flying overhead to commemorate the victims of the air ambulance crash.

“I miss them,” Baldwin said about his colleagues who died in the crash.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10