REACH News

Cal-Ore Life Flight Accident

Update: August 18, 2016 / Santa Rosa, CA

Memorial Fund Established to Honor Pilot and Medical Crew Lost in Cal-Ore Life Flight Accident
On July 29, 2016, a Cal-Ore Life Flight air medical plane crashed north of McKinleyville, CA. In addition to the patient, three Cal-Ore Life Flight personnel were on board: Pilot Larry Mills; Flight Nurse Deborah Kroon, RN, CCRN; and Certified Flight Paramedic Michelle Tarwater, FP-C, NREMT-P. There were no survivors.

Pilot Larry Mills was a man of few words and many smiles. He was a volunteer firefighter for 12 years in his hometown in Illinois. Larry was an exceptional pilot with more than 20 years of flying experience. He loved flying and said it was the only job in the world where he could do something he loved while being of service to others. Larry had been with Cal-Ore Life Flight since April of this year.

Flight Nurse Deborah Kroon came to this country from New Zealand. She spent 25 years as a critical care nurse working in hospitals across the U.S. When she arrived in Del Norte County in Northern California, she fell in love with the area and made Crescent City her home. She had been with Cal-Ore since October of 2014.

Certified Flight Paramedic Michelle Tarwater loved her noble work. She was especially proud to be one of the first in the region to receive National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians-Paramedic (NREMT-P) certification. Her mother said she knew Michelle would be a caregiver from the day she was born. Michelle had been with Cal-Ore since 2011.

Please note that out of respect for the family’s privacy concerns, we are not writing about the patient.

To honor the fallen crew members who gave their lives being of service to others, a memorial scholarship fund has been established with the Wild Rivers Community Foundation. This fund will support education for aviation, flight nursing, and flight paramedics in Curry and Del Norte Counties.

Cal-Ore President Dan Brattain said, “Our heartfelt thanks go out to our community for supporting this memorial fund in honor of our fallen crew. We are pleased to keep their memories alive by assisting students in pursuing a career of service to others.”

Donations may be made online at www.HAFoundation.org/Cal-Ore, or sent to Wild Rivers Community Foundation, 990 Front Street, Crescent City CA 95531. Please note that the monies are designated for the Cal-Ore Life Flight Team Memorial Scholarship Fund.


 

Update: August 12, 2016 / Santa Rosa, CA

Honoring Those We Lost
On July 29, 2016, a Cal-Ore Life Flight airplane crash took the lives of Pilot Larry Mills, Certified Flight Paramedic Michelle Tarwater, Flight Nurse Deborah Kroon, and their patient, April Rodriguez.

Memorial Photo

Pilot Larry Mills was a man of few words and many smiles. He leaves behind his wife Trina Mills, and his daughter, Chanda Mills. Larry enjoyed many activities including sailing, karate, flying, hiking, and playing the drums. He was a volunteer firefighter for 12 years in his hometown in Illinois. Larry was an exceptional pilot with more than 20 years of flying experience. He loved flying and said it was the only job in the world where he could do something he loved while being of service to others. Larry had been with Cal-Ore Life Flight since April of this year.

Flight Nurse Deborah Kroon came to this country from New Zealand. She spent 25 years as a critical care nurse working in hospitals across the U.S. Friends describe her as a free spirit who adored horses, her dog, Oscar, and the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. She was on of those rare people who made everything around her better. When she arrived in Del Norte County in Northern California, she fell in love with the area and made Crescent City her home. She had been with Cal-Ore since October of 2014.

Certified Flight Paramedic Michelle Tarwater loved her noble work. She was especially proud to be one of the first in the region to receive National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians-Paramedic (NREMT-P) certification. Her mother said she knew Michelle would be a caregiver since the day she was born. Family and friends agree Michelle lived larger than life. She enjoyed gardening, fishing, hiking, camping and people, but there was nothing more important to her than her faith and her family. Michelle had been with Cal-Ore since 2011.

Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we are not writing about their patient, April Rodriquez.

On Wednesday, August 3, 2016, a public safety agency procession left Crescent City, CA with nearly 60 emergencies vehicles representing ground ambulances, fire, rescue, police and sheriff’s departments among them. They traveled up Highway 101 to the memorial service held in Azalea Park in Brookings, OR. It was a beautiful tribute to our crewmembers and their patient. The outpouring of love and support was a great comfort to their families, friends, and the EMS community. For those who could not attend, we would like to share the Memorial Service Video from News Channel 3 out of Eureka, CA.

Candlelight vigils were held to honor the lives of Larry, Michelle, Deborah and April. More than forty air ambulance providers and EMS agencies from across the United States — Oregon, California, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming — held candlelight ceremonies to pay tribute. We would like to share the Candlelight Vigils for Cal-Ore Life Flight video with you.

Cal-Ore Life Flight Team Memorial Scholarship Fund Established
To honor our lost crew members, a memorial scholarship fund has been established to support education for aviation, flight nursing, and flight paramedics in Curry and Del Norte Counties. Donations may be sent to or dropped off at Wild Rivers Community Foundation, 990 Front Street, Crescent City CA 95531. Donations can also be made online at www.Hafoundation.org/cal-ore. Please note that the monies are designated for the Cal-Ore Life Flight Team Memorial Scholarship Fund.

As we move forward, we want to leave you with a very special letter
At the memorial service, Michelle Tarwater’s step-father, Bryan Horne, read an incredible letter that Michelle had written to her mother, Nancy Horne, five years earlier. With unimaginable foresight, the letter was intended to be of comfort to her mother in the event something were to happen to Michelle while doing what she loved most—helping others in their time of need. To Michelle, it wasn’t a job—it was her life’s calling. ‘

The family would like to share Michelle’s letter with the hope it will provide some comfort to the EMS community. On behalf of Nancy Horne and the entire family, it is an honor to share Michelle Tarwater’s letter with you.

Michelle Tarwater's Letter
Read Michelle Tarwater’s Letter