Helicopter crash kills 3, puts transplant on hold

Three people were killed when a helicopter on its way to retrieve a heart for transplant crashed in northern Florida, leaving the patient to wait for another organ to become available.

Clay County Sheriff's Office spokesman Russ Burke told the Florida Times-Union (http://bit.ly/vGNNzE ) the helicopter left the St. Augustine airport around 5:45 a.m. Monday.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told the Gainesville Sun it crashed at 5:53 a.m., enroute to Gaineville hospital, Shands at the University of Florida.

The helicopter was carrying heart surgeon Dr. Luis Bonilla and procurement technician David Hines of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. The pilot's name wasn't released.

Mayo Clinic spokesman Layne Smith says the heart they were to pick up could not be used in another transplant because its viability expired.

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Information from: The Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com