The Morton County Sheriff’s Office has completed its ground investigation into the fatal Bismarck Air Medical plane crash, but many questions remain as national aviation investigators continue their work.

The Nov. 18 crash in Morton County claimed the lives of pilot Todd Lasky, nurse Bonnie Cook and paramedic Chris Iverson while they were en route from Bismarck to Williston to pick up a patient.

Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said preliminary reports from the state medical examiner show the crew members died from blunt force trauma injuries.

The investigation so far indicates the airplane broke apart during the flight while the plane was about 12,000 feet above ground, Kirchmeier said. The National Transportation Board is investigating what caused the incident.

“It’s in NTSB’s ballpark to find out how and why and what caused that,” Kirchmeier said.

The plane was not struck by anything and there was no fire, he said. Weather also is not believed to have been a factor.

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“There was no indication of any issues on the plane or a distress call made before the plane went missing," he said.

Kirchmeier said he expects it will be six months to a year before the NTSB investigation is complete and people have more answers about what happened.

“There’s just a lot of questions surrounding this particular one because it hits home to a lot of people,” Kirchmeier said. “That’s why we’re trying to complete the investigation, but we want to make sure that we’re respectful to the families and the people it affected as we move forward.”

Keith Holloway, public affairs officer for NTSB, said a preliminary report is expected to be released soon that will provide factual information about the crash but won’t state a cause.

Holloway said he doesn’t believe the plane had a flight data recorder. However, he added that, if one is recovered, that information will likely be in the preliminary report. 

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(Reach Amy Dalrymple at 701-250-8267 or Amy.Dalrymple@bismarcktribune.com)