Paramedics Remember Crash Victims

Published: Apr 26, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG - Friends and fellow paramedics gathered Friday to remember three medical rescue crew members who perished when their Bayflite helicopter crashed into a radio transmission tower in the Wedon Island County Preserve.
Before the memorial ceremony, Debora White and Jack Kilkelly spruced up the area around a stone marker honoring the Bayflite 3 crew.

Friday marked the third anniversary of the crash. Both White and Kilkelly were friends of Erik Hangartner, an EMS paramedic who died in the crash. Also killed in the accident were pilot Mark Wallace and flight nurse Alicia Betita- Collins.

White once worked with Hangartner at Sunstar EMS of Largo. She says she comes to the memorial throughout the year to add flowers and fresh mulch to the small patch of grass near the Derby Lane dog track.

``He was more than a co-worker. He was my friend,'' White said. ``There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him and his family. He was a good person and deserves to be remembered.''

A memorial service was held later in the day to honor the crash victims. Most of those in attendance were EMS and other medical workers.

``Paramedics are a pretty tight- knit group,'' Kilkelly said. ``Most of us know each other real well. In fact, it seems half of us are married [to] or dating other paramedics.''

Bill Ward