SMURD helicopter crashes in Republic of Moldova, four dead

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Four members of a SMURD team died on Thursday after their helicopter fell down in Cantemir district in Republic of Moldova. SMURD (Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication) is Romania’s emergency rescue service. Unimedia reports that the helicopter crash was in Haragas locality, Cantemir district in Republic of Moldova, near the border with Romania.

The Romanian Interior Ministry confirmed that four people aboard the helicopter had died. According to the Interior Ministry, all four victims were members of the SMURD team and had no patient aboard.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Monica Dajbog informed that the ministry had activated the crisis cell follwing the SMURD helicopter crash, with all EC 135 aircrafts being confined to ground.

There were four people aboard a pilot, a copilot, a doctor and a nurse. The pilot was vastly experienced, with 4,181 hours of flying a helicopter, while the copilot had an experience of 1,480 hours of flying. The doctor had a five-year experience working on SMURD helicopters, and the nurse had been working with SMURD for 11 years. (…) It has been decided that all 135 aircraft will be grounded,” Dajbog told a news conference.

The helicopter belonged to SMURD Iasi unit and was deployed in a mission in the Republic of Moldova. Sources told Mediafax that the crew consisted in the pilot, the copilot, the doctor and the nurse. The doctor and the nurse were from the emergency unit of St. Spiridon Hospital in Iasi.

The mayor of Capaclia locality in Cantemir district told Publika channel that the SMURD helicopter was flying at very low altitude several minutes before the crash. “I heard a strange noise and we looked to see what’s happening. The people saw the helicopter flying a little bit near the ground and four minutes later we heard a bang,” mayor Lexei Busuioc said.

Later on in the day, interim Prosecutor General of Moldova, Eduard Harunjen told Mediafax that an investigation had been initiated probing into the eyewitnesses’ testimonies that “the helicopter’s engine would have stopped during flight, in the air.”

There was raining in Moldova on Thursday, with a yellow code alert for heavy rainfalls being in force.

The helicopter was on a rescue mission previsously in the morning and was flying from Cahul to Chisinau, the capital of the neighboring country. The aircraft had gone missing from the radars’ screens at 14:00.

In the morning, the helicopter had been required in Vulcanesti locality to transport a patient, an 85-year-old woman suffering of bronchial pneumonia and respiratory and kidney insufficiency. During the flight, the patient was monitored by the paramedics from SMURD Iasi.

At 09:55hrs, the aircraft took off from Iasi to Vulcanesti, Moldova, where it landed at 11:00hrs. At 11:30hrs, it took over an 85-ear-old woman suffering from bronchopneumonia and flew her to Chisinau. After handing over the patient, the helicopter refuelled and took off again around 13:10 for Cahul in another rescue mission to save a 64-year-old stroke patient. The crash occurred before the helicopter reached the patient,” said Interior Ministry’s spokesperson.

Both Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and PM Dacian Ciolos conveyed condolences to the families of the victims of a medevac helicopter crash.

In his turn, the SMURD founder and coordinator, Raed Arafat posted on Facebook a condolences message, pointing out that there has been a lot of work so that the SMURD project should be extended to Republic of Moldova and implemented.

Who were the four victims?

Doru Gavril, the pilot, was 53 years old and was commander of the Iasi Special Aviation Unit. He had an experience of with 4,181 hours of flying a helicopter. He was married and had one child. His wife worked as an accountant at the Iasi Airport and was on duty on the moment she heard that the helicopter piloted by her husband had crashed.


The copilot Voicu Socae, aged 36 was also very experimented, with 1,480 hours of flying. He graduated the Henri Coanda Air Force Academy in Brasov in 2003. He was married and had two children. Sources close to him revealed that Socae would have complained to his colleagues lately that he used to be gone on mission a lot and hadn’t got to see his family for two months.

The doctor Mihaela Dumea, 39 years old was from Iasi working at St Spiridon Hospital. She was also teacher at the Medicine Faculty in Iasi. The doctor has been working for SMURD Iasi for 11 years, having a five-year experience in flying helicopters on rescue missions. She was married and had one child.

Nurse Gabriel Sandu, 38 years old, was one of the oldest members of the Iasi SMURD teams, with a 16-year experience in the Service and 11 years on medevac helicopters. He was married and had one child.

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