STAR Flight nurse’s records ‘inadvertently’ released

FILE - STAR Flight (KXAN File Photo/Todd Bynum)
FILE - STAR Flight (KXAN File Photo/Todd Bynum)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Records about the STAR Flight nurse who died during a rescue operation last month were sent to news media Tuesday, a release STAR Flight maintains was a mistake. The records include personal information — including, medical documents, Kristin McLain‘s address, Social Security number and evaluations. They also include some information about the night McLain died.

“The Travis County Attorney’s office is reviewing the release of this information,” STAR Flight spokeswoman Lisa Block said in an email. “It was inadvertently released to some news media via an email sent from STAR Flight to a county attorney. The information was not intended to be released to the public and was intended to be interoffice correspondence.”

Because of this, KXAN News is choosing not to report the specifics of the document at this time.

Lawyer James Twombly said his McLain’s husband was devastated to hear the file was released to members of the media. Twombly believes sending out the information is a violation of the law and further disclosure violates federal law.

He is now looking his client’s legal options related to the documents.

The email came from STAR Flight’s executive director Casey Ping. A follow-up email from an assistant Travis County attorney said the document was meant only for Ping’s attorney, and Ping “inadvertently” hit reply all to an email that included several members of the media.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary investigation report on McLain’s death last month.

According to the initial NTSB report, when the emergency crew arrived at the patient’s location, the flight nurse and her medical equipment were hoisted to the ground, and a backboard was sent down for the patient. After the 46-year-old flight nurse had secured the patient in the rescue carrier, she radioed the helicopter and reported ready for extraction; the helicopter moved into position and extended the hook to her, cited the report.

After giving the signal, the hoist operator initiated the lift to the helicopter. The report goes on to say that once the flight nurse and patient cleared the trees, they began a steady spin. To stop the spin, the pilot started moving the helicopter forward. The hoist operator said that the spin had almost stopped, but he noticed that the flight nurse was riding in a position lower than normal. A short time later, the flight nurse then fell from the line. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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