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Ill. helicopter crash takes lives of two flight nurses

Wednesday December 12, 2012
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Two flight nurses with Rockford (Ill.) Memorial Hospital died Monday night when their helicopter crashed in a field outside Rochelle, Ill., about 32 miles south of Rockford.

Hospital officials said Jim Dillow, RN, and Karen Hollis, RN, died in the crash along with pilot Andy Olesen. They were on their way to pick up a patient at a hospital in Mendota, Ill., about 30 miles south of the crash site.

Some unexpectedly rough weather apparently was a factor in the crash, according to reports. Shortly before the crash, Olesen had radioed that he was returning to Rockford because of the weather.

Hospital officials provided information on the nurses and pilot, according to the Rockford Register Star (www.rrstar.com/updates/x1926897850/Victims-IDd-in-REACT-helicopter-crash-in-Lee-County).

Dillow, 40, had been with the hospital since 1996. He had experience in the ICU and ED and more than 10 years of experience as a flight nurse. He was married with four children.

Hollis, 48, had been with the hospital since 1986 and worked in the ICU and as a clinical resource coordinator, among other leadership positions. She also had more than 10 years of experience as a flight nurse. She was married with two children.

Olesen, 65, worked for a company that contracted with Rockford Memorial and had been a pilot in the hospital’s REACT (Regional Emergency Acute Care Transport) program for five years. He planned to retire soon.

A hospital statement read: "At Rockford Health System, our hearts are heavy. We grieve the loss of three heroes who dedicated their careers to serving others. … Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our three fallen crew members."

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