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As snow began to fall Friday on the helipad at University Hospital, Brian Simpson took a moment to remember the survivors of those lost in a "watershed" AirMed crash 10 years ago.
"If you see a family member of one of our fallen heroes, give them a hug," suggested Simpson, program director of AirMed, the hospital's airborne ambulance system.
Simpson spoke at the closing of a memorial service to mark the anniversary of a Jan. 11, 1998, helicopter crash that killed four and prompted increased safety measures. The system now uses night vision goggles, has improved weather equipment in the cockpit and adopted a formal policy that crew members do not have to fly if they are troubled by conditions.
"We look at it as a watershed event," Simpson told the crowd of about 50 people, many wearing red and black AirMed coats and choked with tears. "The event changed the way that we do business."
Pilot Stan Berg, with nurse Shayne Carnahan and paramedic Tim Hynes, had flown from the hospital to pick up injured avalanche victim David Anderson in Red Pine Canyon. After putting Anderson aboard, the helicopter and crew lifted off again.
But two minutes after takeoff amid wind, snow and poor visibility, the helicopter crashed on Dromedary Peak in Little Cottonwood Canyon. A federal report on the crash cited pilot error in adverse weather conditions.
Today, photos of Berg, Hynes and Carnahan hang on a wall at the helipad. Kim Berg Walters, the pilot's widow, said Friday she still "has a place in her heart" for the flight service and University Hospital.
"It's a family," she said. "It's comforting to know that these men aren't forgotten."
Hynes' daughter, Jamie Kinder, 29, said she still thinks of her father when helicopters fly overhead, and her reaction can vary.
"It depends on the day," Kinder said. "Most of the time I'm really happy for the work that they do."