Drexel Hill medical helicopter crash pilot released from hospital, says he had ‘God as a co-pilot’

Danial Moore says he ‘had God as a co-pilot’ the day he crashed his medical helicopter onto the lawn of a church in Drexel Hill, sparing everyone’s life – including a 2-month-old baby – on board.

“And we landed in his front yard, so that was pretty cool,” Moore, 52, said. told reporters from a stretcher at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center on Sunday.

Moore had been in hospital since the accident with serious injuries since Tuesday. He said he remembered little of what was widely considered a ‘miracle’ landing that day other than ‘waking up and looking up and seeing a whole company of firefighters staring at me’.

“It’s a really good feeling,” he said.

And on Sunday, firefighters, police and medical personnel watched, waving and cheering, as Moore boarded an ambulance to return home to Winchester, Virginia.

Before embarking on the journey home and recovering, Moore – a former military pilot – took a moment to thank the nurse and doctor on board his helicopter that day, first responders on the scene, his medical team at Penn, his “guardian angel” fiancée, and “all those people who were running towards the burning helicopter rather than away from it”.

READ MORE: Medical helicopter carrying 2-month-old baby crashes in Drexel Hill, injuring 4 in ‘miracle’ landing

Moore noted that when his helicopter crashed on a sleepy residential road in Drexel Hill on Tuesday afternoon, it was the onboard nurse who dragged him under the smoldering helicopter. Meanwhile, he said, the flight doctor brought the baby on board to safety before extinguishing the fire in the helicopter and jumping into an ambulance at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia for continue the care of the baby.

“It was completely amazing,” Moore told reporters.

The crash happened just before 1pm as the Eurocopter LifeNet transported the baby girl from WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital to CHOP. As the helicopter began to run into trouble, officials said Moore dragged it lower and lower for about a mile over Drexel Hill in search of a place to land, as witnesses said they heard sputtering in the sky and a nearby preschool braced for impact.

» READ MORE: Why helicopters fly over the Philadelphia area

Eventually, the helicopter dove to the ground near the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Burmont Road, skidding until it came to a stop in the lawn of Drexel Hill United Methodist Church. On the way down, Moore avoided surrounding homes and buildings, telephone poles and wires, damaging only a few landscaping near the church.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

READ MORE: As Drexel Hill helicopter crash investigation continues, nearby church pastor reflects on ‘miracle’ everyone survived

Helicopter accidents are rare but can often fatal for passengers. So when the alert came to Penn Presbyterian’s trauma bay on Tuesday that a helicopter had crashed, surgeon Brian Smith said he and his team were preparing for the worst. But the worst never came – instead, Moore’s passengers arrived at the hospital with minimal injuries. The baby was uninjured and the pilot himself was the only one who required surgery, with damage to his ribs, spine and chest.

“It was pretty amazing to see his crew members get away with it really unscathed,” Smith said. “It’s amazing, and again, a testament to Dan’s skill in bringing this thing to the ground. His skill saved everyone’s life on that helicopter.

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Matt Nowlin, Moore’s friend and former Army captain, said he watched footage of witnesses to the crash in “disbelief”.

“A non-pilot might look at this and say, ‘Wow, that’s a terrible result’, but it was a fantastic result – the fact that he avoided power lines and buildings and no one was hurt – it’s an absolute miracle,” Nowlin said. The LifeNet Eurocopter EC135 Moore flown that day was similar to helicopters he flew in the military and has been in operation for nearly three decades, Nowlin said, noting that Moore was “very familiar” with the device.

Nowlin called his friend “your typical pilot: calm and collected, highly trained and highly professional”.

“Usually when you meet someone like Dan you have the worst day of your life,” Nowlin said. “I’m grateful he’s out there, and people should know that there are such people in the world.”

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