TRIBUTE: A popular flight paramedic from Leonia was killed in a medical helicopter crash in New Mexico overnight.
Rebecca Serkey, 29, was one of three people killed when the chopper crashed around 3 a.m. into a hillside in the town of Newkirk, about 135 miles east of Albuquerque, a flight nurse in Nevada and a local EMT who had plans to get together with her this weekend confirmed.
The helicopter was flying from Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe to Tucumcari, authorities there said.
“She was a tremendous asset to every department that she worked for and has touched so many lives!” wrote the Ridgefield Volunteer Ambulance Corps, one of many she worked for in her career. “She will be truly missed!”
Serkey and fellow members of her TriState CareFlight crew, based in Arizona, were well known in the area.
“These crew members were our colleagues, our friends and our neighbors,” the hospital said in statement. “Our hearts, and our prayers, go out to the loved ones of these extraordinary individuals, who were committed to saving lives every single day.”
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.
Serkey, a nationally certified paramedic who began her career in Bergen County, joined the CareFlight team in July 2012.
She previously worked for Saint Clare’s Health System in Dover, Denville, Boonton, Sussex and Hacketstown, as a lab instructor at Rockland Community College in Suffern and as a paramedic with UMDNJ in Newark and Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.
A self-described “adrenaline junkie,” the Illinois-born Serkey studied police science at John Jay College in Manhattan and was an active SCUBA diver.
“I love my jobs and my volunteering I wouldn’t give it up,” she once said. “I work ridiculous hours sometimes, but people do not wait until 9 AM to get sick or hurt.”
A former pool lifeguard and camp counselor, Serkey also was an EMT with Fort Lee for eight years, with Holy Name for four years and with Ridgefield for a year.
Serkey was corps secretary, training officer, crew chief and driver for the Leonia Volunteer Ambulance Corps from May 2003 to September 2007 and a probationary firefighter with the Leonia Volunteer Fire Department from March 2006 through December 2007.
She also was driver and EMT crew chief with the Palisades Park Volunteer Ambulance Corps from April 2005 to November 2006.
Serkey played varsity soccer and ran track at Leonia High School and was in the band, playing two different saxophones in five ensembles all four years. Serkey also was president of the Rod and Reel Club, a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society and the service club.
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