A team of military prosecutors and forensic experts was carrying on Friday investigations on the site where a helicopter of a Romanian medevac helicopter crashed on Thursday, the General Prosecutor’s Office (Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, the Supreme Court) announced. Evidence was collected and several witnesses identified in a case of manslaughter and work protection infringements.
According to a General Prosecutor’s Office release, an agreement was signed with the similar body of the Republic of Moldova, in accordance with the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and on the Romanian law for international judiciary cooperation in criminal investigations, to set up a joint investigation team on the crash of a helicopter of Romania’s Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication (SMURD) on Thursday in the village of Haragas, Cantemir County, Moldova, resulting in the death of all four crew members.
The Military Prosecution Section of the General Prosecutor’s Office also asked the assistance of Moldova’s relevant authorities to avoid the loss of evidence. “So far, the scene and evidence have been secured, witnesses have been identified, and fuel, toxicology and DNA samples were collected. To preserve the evidence, the joint investigation team has carried out urgent procedural acts; some of the work is ongoing,” the said release mentions.
Moldovan President: A sad moment for the citizens on both sides of Prut River
Republic of Moldova President Nicolae Timofti expressed his deep sorrow for the crash of a helicopter of Romania’s Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication (SMURD) on Thursday in the village of Haragas, Cantemir County, resulting in the death of all four crew members.
“I express my deepest compassion and send condolences to the families of the SMURD helicopter’s crew members who have lost their own lives trying to save another’s. It is a sad moment for the citizens on both sides of the Prut River and for me personally,” says Timofti in a message on the Moldova’s Presidency website.
Moldova’s Internal Affairs Ministry (MAI) also sent heartfelt condolences and deep compassion thoughts to the grieving families, for the loss of the SMURD pilot, copilot, medic and nurse.
“The SMURD’s activity in the Republic of Moldova is highly appreciated, as it has an undeniable contribution for each intervention on Moldova’s territory. The tragic accident of today is regrettable for both states, as it is an immeasurable loss for us all,” says the MAI.
A condolence message was sent by the Defence Ministry in Chisinau: “May God rest the souls of the four heroes, who died in the line of duty, trying to save lives.”
National mourning day in Chisinau
Republic of Moldova President Nicolae Timofti has decreed a national mourning day on Friday, for the Thursday’s crash of a medevac helicopter of Romania’s Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication (SMURD) that killed all four crew members – the pilot, the copilot, the medic and the nurse. Flags will be flown at half staff throughout Moldova and at the country’s embassies, and a moment of silence will be observed at noon, the Presidency announced.
Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip has called on Thursday night an emergency meeting of all the heads of authorities involved in the investigation of the crash near the village of Haragas in Moldova’s Cantemir County.
“In a phone call with the Romanian premier Dacian Ciolos, the Moldovan premier Pavel Filip expressed condolences to the families and friends of the helicopter crash victims,” the government of Chisinau mentioned in a release on its website.
“I want you to know that here in the Republic of Moldova we do appreciate the work of these people and we are grateful for the support given to saving patient lives. Theirs was a work of sacrifice, a work of real heroes. Now, our duty is to do our best to find out the causes of this tragedy and this will be proof of our respect for those who, with dedication and courage, have accomplished their noble mission as rescuers,” said Filip. He emphasized that the investigation must be “very complete, very objective.” He insisted that the SMURD’s support to Moldova is “very important and necessary.” Thursday’s mission was the 20th of this service in the country.
The release adds that the Romanian ambassador to Moldova Marius Lazurca mentioned two joint targets of the authorities from both sides of the Prut River: to repatriate the heroes’ bodies and to guarantee all conditions for the case to be investigated, which is why a joint investigation committee will be set up.
SMURD crew members killed in Moldova had more than 5-year helicopter work experience
The four members of the medevac helicopter operated by the SMURD Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication that went down in Moldova are Commodore Doru Gavril, 53, (commander), Captain Commodore Voicu Socae, 36, (copilot), dr. Mihaela Dumea, 39, (emergency doctor and lecturer at the Gh. T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Iasi) and Gabriel Sandu, 38, (emergency medicine nurse).
The Romanian Interior Ministry (MAI) says Commodore Doru Gavril of the Iasi Special Aviation Unit, had been working for military organisations since August 23, 1985, having been hired by MAI on May 1, 2005, he had a helicopter flight experience of 4,181 hours. He was a graduate of the Aurel Vlaicu Aviation Commissioned Officers Shool. He was married, with one child.
The copilot, Voicu Socae, a helicopter pilot, had been working for military organisations since July 26, 2003, having been hired by MAI on September 1, 2008. A class of 2003 graduate of the Henri Coanda Air Force Academy of Brasov, he had a helicopter flight experience of 1,480 hours. He was married, with two children.
Dr. Mihaela Dumea, 39, had been working with SMURD Iasi for 11 years. She had a five-year helicopter work experience. She was married, with one child.
Emergency medicine nurse Gabriel Sandu, 38, had been working with SMURD Iasi for 16 years. He had an eleven-year helicopter work experience. He was married, with one child.
MAI also says that the Thursday’s mission was the helicopter’s 12th in Moldova under a cross-border emergency medicine cooperation agreement.
It adds that the next of kin of the dead were notified by joint teams of police officers and psychologists, while Interior Minister Petre Toba ordered assistance to be prepared for the families of the dead MAI employees.
Toba also contacted Romania’s Embassy in Moldova, which will get involved in the repatriation of the dead bodies.