NEWKIRK, N.M. -- Authorities on Friday released the names of three crew members killed when a medical helicopter flying to pick up a patient crashed into the side of a New Mexico hilltop.
The helicopter was flying from Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe to Trigg Memorial Hospital in Tucumcari when it disappeared from radar at 2:48 a.m. Thursday.
It went down near Newkirk along Interstate 40 about 135 miles east of Albuquerque and about 30 miles from Tucumcari and burst into flames, killing all three aboard.
According to officials with Bullhead City, Arizona-based TriState CareFlight LLC, which owned and operated the helicopter, the three people killed were David Cavigneaux, 46, Rebecca Serkey, 29, and James Butler, 46.
Butler was from Albuquerque with Cavigneaux and Serkey both residents of Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
Authorities didn't immediately release job descriptions for the three, but The Albuquerque Journal reported that Cavigneaux was the pilot, Serkey was the flight nurse and paramedic and Butler was the base manager.
Ranch workers found the wreckage on the rocky, northern side of a mesa after authorities called and asked them to look around the area.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the cause of the crash was unknown, although the National Weather Service said there were low clouds and gusty winds in the area at the time.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.