Memorial for REACT Flight Crew

By: Shannon Smith Email
By: Shannon Smith Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- It was an emotional day, at Rock Valley College, where hundreds came to pay their final respects to the REACT flight crew killed last week.

REACT crew members joined the families of pilot Andy Olesen, and flight nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis to share memories of their fallen heroes.

Mayor Larry Morrissey was one the speakers, along with Rockford Heath Systems president Gary Kaatz, and REACT program director Robert Escarza.

Dozens of emergency service personnel from across the state, attended today's memorial.

The REACT crew has had a tremendous impact on the community, and a large crowd came to pay respect to Pilot Andy Olesen and flight nurses Jim Dillow and Karen Hollis. Hundreds of first responders and complete strangers, joined the victim's families in saying goodbye.

“It means a lot to us as a crew and as a team as we look forward to moving on from this tragedy," said Jason Stern, a REACT Flight Nurse.

REACT flight nurse Jason Stern says it's their bond that's helping them through this tough time, and the memories he shared with the crew that's now gone.

Stern says everyone was touched by them. That includes retired ambulance EMT Mary Kempel. She drove from Mt. Carroll to give her condolences.

“It's really a sad situation. The medical community is really a close-knit community no matter how far away you are," said Kempel.

Although she didn't know them personally, Kempel says she's worked with several REACT members before.

"You don't even have to know the people to be like part of family." Kempel says the REACT crew was always right by her side, like family.

Rockford Memorial’s REACT fleet has been grounded since last Monday’s crash. There’s still no timeframe as to when they’ll start transporting patients again.

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