SMURD helicopter crashes in Siutghiol Lake, all four persons aboard died

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UPDATE: The first victim found was the doctor, she was rushed to the hospital but unfortunately died several hours later. The pilot and copilot’s bodies was brought to the surface after more than five hours of continous searching. It took 12 hours to find the pregnant nurse’s body.

A SMURD helicopter with four persons aboard crashed on Monday in Siutghiol Lake in Mamaia resort, located on the Black Sea coast. The helicopter had four persons aboard- the pilot, the copilot, a doctor and a nurse.

Only one member of the crew had been saved and brought ashore by 6 p.m., after Constanta Police sources  had initially told news agencies that the helicopter hadn’t sunk completely, and the rescue divers team could manage to save all four victims. “Three persons are missing. They are most probably caught under the helicopter’s wreck. Only one person was taken out”, Raed Arafat, SMURD coordinator said around 18:00.

The saved victim was identified as the doctor of the medical team, Laura Vizireanu. The woman has received immediate medical assistance but her situation was critical as she was in cardiac arrest. Raed Arafat announced the doctor died in hospital few minutes before midnight. “Unfortunately the doctor passed away, her family has been informed on that. There have been made all attempts to save her life, but this is the situation unfortunately,” Arafat said, as quoted by Mediafax.

The divers have found the copilot’s body after five hours of searching. According to Hotnews, he was found 6 meters deep in the water in his chair, with seat belt tightened. Close after midnight, the pilot’s body was also found. They have been resuscitated and rushed to the hospital, but they could not be saved.

As for the 38-year-old nurse, her boyfriend told TV reporters she was pregnant and that she had called him before going aboard to inform him they would head to Mihail Kogalniceanu airport. Her body was the last the divers found, after 12 hours of searching.

Doctor Ionut Cealara, medical director with the Constanta Ambulance Service told Agerpres the SMURD helicopter had been taken a patient from Tulcea to Constanta County Hospital and, on the way back to Mihail Kogalniceanu airport base for refueling, it lost altitude and crashed in Siutghiol Lake.

Rescue operations problems

Although the first rescue team came up on the scene in about 10-15 minutes from the first 112 call, their boat refused to get off, as one of the engines hasn’t been working. The representatives of Constanta General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations admitted the intevention was 30-40 minutes delayed.

Eye witnesses reported that after the crash, the members of the crew had managed to get out of the helicopter and had been floating for some time on the water surface, hung by the helicopter wreck. There also witnesses who confirmed they saw several persons in the water  desperately crying for help “for about ten minutes”. “Help us, we are freezing!”, the victims would have screamed.

“The helicopter was flying on fire”, a witness told Digi24 TV. “At the first contact with the water, the helicopter rolled over upside down, its tail broke down and sank into the water. After about one minute, pieces of the helicopter surfaced,” another witness said.

Some witnesses accused the rescue team intervention came up too late. “They showed up too late. I told them very clearly to come to “La butoaie” area of the lake, they went to the Casino area. When they showed up, they came hands in their pockets. I told them to bring the pneumatic boat as we cannot reach them otherwise. It has been growing dark by the time they began oaring,” a man told Digi 24.

As a matter of fact one of the eye witnesses told another TV station, Realitatea TV, that the first victim, the doctor was actually brought ashore by a fisherman with his motor boat and not by the militaries.

Aircrafts hold to the ground

Meanwhile, the Aviation Inspectorate ordered that all SMURD helicopters to be hold on the ground until they are checked up to meet all safety flight conditions.

Raed Arafat said the crashed helicopter was “a recent, new aircraft” and it did not have any technical problems. According to SMURD coordinator, Eurocopter had recently performed the technical examination of the helicopter.


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