NTSB says STAR Flight nurse McClain wasn't properly fastened to hoist

Her death shook this community to the core.  46-year-old STAR Flight nurse Kristin McClain was killed last April.  She fell 100 feet while rescuing an injured hiker in Austin's Barton Creek greenbelt.

"I think organizationally we're healing, which is a good thing.  This will never be forgotten," said STAR Flight Program Director Casey Ping.

On Wednesday, STAR Flight responded to the results of the National Transportation Safety Board's year-long investigation.
   
The NTSB says they investigated McClain's equipment and didn't find any failures or malfunctions. 
   
The hoist hook and helicopter equipment checked out as well -- and video from a camera on the hoist also didn't show any equipment failures.

"The NTSB concluded in the absence of any of these equipment failures it is likely that the rescuer was not attached properly to the hoist," Ping said.

The Safety Board's report says rescuers on the ground didn't report seeing anything unusual when McClain and the hiker were lifted up other than hitting a few tree branches on the way which Ping says is normal.
   
According to Ping we may never know the reason why McClain wasn't properly fastened to the hoist.

"Unfortunately they did not see the connections occur so we don't have a definitive [picture of] what they looked like.  And so we have this period of time about 30 seconds where we really don't know what happened...and so it really is going to be 'we don't know,'" Ping said.

Ping says after McClain's death an independent consultant conducted an internal review of STAR Flight procedures including training and protocol.  They've made some changes.

"We standardized some of our equipment.  We created some additional steps during hoist rescues that created an additional safety check for the rescuer to perform as they're getting hoisted," Ping said.

From now on, whenever firefighters or paramedics are present at the scene of the rescue, they'll help with the extraction.

"If they're present to help us do a cross check, safety check, before we lift," Ping said.

Next month will be a year since McClain lost her life in the line of duty.  One thing STAR Flight will be doing to remember her is, for one week, getting rid of those khaki-colored flight suits.

"We made it for the environmental factors.  But Kristin was not a fan!  We will be wearing blue for that week...in remembrance of Kristin," Ping said.

STAR Flight also says next month the American Heroes Air Show at Camp Mabry will be dedicated to McClain.

Click here to see the NTSB's full report.

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