Bodies of SMURD helicopter crew killed in Moldova repatriated

The coffins of the four crew members of a helicopter of the SMURD emergency rescuer that crashed on Thursday in Moldova have arrived on Friday at the St. Spiridon Hospital of Iasi, Romania, to the applause of the SMURD Iasi colleagues.

The procession stopped over at the Emergency Care Unit of the St. Spiridon Hospital of Iasi, the work place of the deceased doctor Mihaela Dumea and nurse Gabriel Sandu.

After a moment’s silence, the procession left for the homonymous church.

It was welcomed by a detachment of the Iasi Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (ISU), the families, friends and former colleagues of the dead. Two cars were carrying along four coffins, two of the medical staff, one of pilot Doru Gavril and one of copilot Voicu Socae.

Accompanying the funeral procession to Iasi were also State Secretary with the Romanian Interior Ministry (MAI) Raed Arafat, the founder of SMURD, as well as state officials from Moldova and Romania.

The coffins of doctor Mihaela Dumea, nurse Gabriel Sandu and Commodore Doru Gavril were displayed at the St, Spiridon Church of Iasi, while the coffin with the fourth body, of copilot Voicu Socae, was hauled to Bacau.

Sandu, 40, was one of Romania’s most experienced emergency care nurses, having worked with SMURD since 2005.

Primary care physician Dumea had been working with SMURD Iasi for five years while teaching emergency medicine as lecturer to students.

The EC 135 helicopter that went down on Thursday in Moldova had been acquired by the Romanian Health Ministry in 2014 for 5 million euros. It was with SMURD since 2014, having undergone a last inspection in 2016.

Pilot Doru Gavril, 53, had a helicopter flight experience of more than 4,000 hours. He was the commander of the Iasi Special Aviation Unit.

Co-pilot Socae, 36, had an experience of more than 1,480 flight hours.

This was the second tragedy to have stricken SMURD Iasi over the past 10 years. In January 2006, two pilots and two medical staff were killed as a SMURD Iasi helicopter carrying them aboard crashed near the airport. Their Eurocopter EC 135 crashed 10 minutes into the flight, about one and a half kilometres away from the control tower, close to a gendarmerie unit.

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