ROCKFORD (WIFR) --More than 100 first responders escorted the bodies of the react crew killed in Monday’s helicopter crash, in a special processional. The bodies of pilot Andy Olesen, and flight nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis were escorted from the Oregon Sheriff's Department to Rockford Memorial Hospital. Such a procession is a tradition in the fire and rescue community when someone is killed.
It was silence instead of sirens at Rockford Memorial Hospital. Hundreds of people joined the families of Pilot Andy Olesen, and flight nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis to finish their mission.
“Seeing complete strangers who may not have even known the parties involved pull alongside of the road with their hats off and hands over their heart, it was heart touching."
Andy Schultz is an ATS Critical Care Paramedic in Rockford. He says he knew Karen for more than 20 years.
"I’m very close with them, utilize them a lot, done a lot of ride time with them,” said Schultz.
Several hospital personnel joined REACT crewmembers for a moment of silence, including RMH nurse Michelle Bower.
“They would come up, greet everybody with happiness, compassion, always willing to give a helping hand,” said Bower. "They're three beautiful angels up in heaven right now." Bower says their memories will live on.
We're told it will be some time before REACT helicopters are back in the air.
You can continue to express your condolences for friends and family members of the REACT crew by sending an e-mail to
REACTMemories@rhsnet.org. . A public memorial will be held Wednesday morning. We will stream the service here on our web-channel.
From Rockford Health System....
ROCKFORD, Ill. — In a tradition found within the fire and rescue community, the bodies of the REACT helicopter crew members who lost their lives on December 10, 2012, will return to the hangar to complete their mission on Friday morning, December 14.
Members of the regional community of fire, police and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel will escort the bodies of Flight Nurse Jim Dillow; Flight Nurse Karen Hollis; and Pilot Andy Olesen. The procession will depart from the Ogle County Sheriff’s office in Oregon at 10 a.m. and will complete the mission at the REACT hangar located on the western edge of the Rockford Memorial Hospital campus at 2400 North Rockton Ave. at about 10:45. Following a moment of recognition at the hangar, the procession will then depart for individual funeral homes.
Members of the public and the media are invited to line the route of the processional and/or be present at the hangar when the processional arrives. Those who choose to await the processional at the hangar should arrive between 10:15 and 10:30.
Departing Oregon, Ill. from the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office at about 10 a.m.
• Turn right on Washington Street
• Take the 3rd left on to North River Road
• Continue straight on to IL-72 E
• Turn left on to North Kishwaukee Road
• Turn left on to Kishwaukee Road
• Continue on to Airport Drive
• Turn left on to Beltline Road
• Slight right on to IL-2 North/South Main Street
• Turn left on to South Springfield Ave.
• Turn right on to Auburn Street
• Turn left on to Kilburn Ave.
Turn right on to Glenwood Ave. and arrive at the REACT hangar at about 10:45 a.m.