‘Everyone was in a joyous mood’ before doomed Life Flight took off, victim’s daughter says


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY/WNCN) – The patient who died in the fiery crash of a Duke Life Flight helicopter in North Carolina last week was a 70-year-old North Carolina native who had suffered complications from surgeries for pancreatic cancer, her daughter said.

Flight nurses Kris Harrison and Crystal Sollinger and pilot Jeff Burke died in the crash, according to Duke Health. Mary Bartlett, 70, was being treated in the helicopter when it crashed, according to her daughter Tiffany Bartlett Thompson.

Bartlett was born and raised in Elizabeth City. Duke Life Flight picked her up from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center after she had complications from two surgeries related to her pancreatic cancer.

She was alert and responding … everyone was in a joyous mood,” said Bartlett Thompson. “The pilot told us it was the perfect day for flying.”

Bartlett Thompson spent time with the flight crew before they took off and planned to meet her mom at the hospital in Durham. She says the crew was “smiling and joyful” and talked about the support across the country for the victims in southeast Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“[Burke] shared a nice message about humanity and wishing that everyone could help each other out like that all the time,” said Bartlett Thompson.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration spent the weekend at the crash site conducting a preliminary investigation and clearing the wreckage. The NTSB tells 10 On Your Side that there is no timeline for determining the cause of the crash.

Bartlett is survived by her daughters Tiffany Bartlett Thompson and Tracy Bartlett, son Lennard Bartlett Jr. and husband Lennard Bartlett Sr.

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