AUSTIN, Texas - Flowers and pictures outside the Travis County STARFlight hangar honor flight nurse Kristin McLain. Monday night the 46-year-old fell to her death during a rescue operation over the Barton Creek greenbelt.
As first responders mourn her loss federal investigators will try to figure out what went wrong. For the time being STARFlight has suspended its flight operations. Other crews and companies in neighboring Bastrop, Burnet and San Antonio are assisting.
On Monday around 8:25 p.m. EMS received a call to help an injured hiker in the 2600 block of Barton Hills Drive. STARFlight responded and McLain was one of three people on board the EC-145 helicopter serving as the rescuer.
Around 9:50 p.m. as the woman was being lifted to the helicopter McLain fell from the helicopter's hoist to her death according to county officials.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator from Denver made his way to Austin Tuesday. First thing Wednesday morning he's expected to start his investigation. The FAA is also assisting. As part of the investigation they will speak with the other two members of the flight crew, review air traffic control logs and equipment.
The 46-year-old spent the last seven years working as a flight nurse. According to an article in Austin Fit magazine McLain loved living an active life as a triathlete. One week before her death McLain trained with Texas Task Force 1, the state's elite search and rescue team.
People from Central Texas and beyond are showing their support online for McLain's family, friends and fellow first responders.
"We can't take away the sorrow or the pain but we can be there," said Tami Baker who chairs the 100 Club of Central Texas board.
Not long after learning of her death the non-profit jumped into action. There is a $10,000 check to help with immediate needs the family may have including travel and lodging. McLain moved to Austin from Colorado in 2008 to work with STARFlight. The organization supports first responders injured or killed in the line of duty.
"You never know when tragedy strikes," said Baker. The organization is accepting donations to support McLain and her family through a survivors fund.
The community will remember McLain as a dedicated nurse who saved countless lives. Her STARFlight family says she will be missed greatly.
McLain leaves behind her husband.
Travis County officials are trying to organize a press conference.