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3 dead after medical helicopter crashes in Rochelle, Ill.

A pilot and two nurses from a Rockford hospital were killed Monday night in a medical helicopter crash in Lee County, authorities confirm.

The helicopter was traveling from Rockford Memorial Hospital to a hospital in Mendota, Ill. when it crashed around 8:30 p.m., according to Federal Aviation Association spokesperson Tony Molinaro.

Pilot Andy Olson and flight nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis were identified as the deceased. No patients were aboard the helicopter.

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The helicopter went down in a cornfield in Compton, a small town near Rochelle. The debris scattered across the entire field, according to Lee County Sheriff John R. Varga.

"Basically what we got was a phone call of an aircraft flying low," Varga said. "People in the area were familiar enough with aircraft that comes across this way, and one of the farmers in the area actually spotted the wreckage."


Federal inspectors are investigating what caused the crash.

"At Rockford Health System, our hearts our heavy," the hospital said in a statement. "We grieve the loss of three heroes who dedicated their careers to serving others." 

The health system said they're looking into the possibility of weather playing a role in the crash. At 8 p.m. Monday, light snow and flurries were reported at an airport near Rochelle.

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