The lone survivor of Monday's fatal helicopter crash continues to recover at the University of South Alabama Medical Center.
Brendan Mullen is in the burn unit of the center and preparing for more surgery and has been upgraded to serious condition. Family members who have gathered to be with him tell of a horrific situation as the helicopter went down in DeSoto National Forest on Monday.
Brendan was in charge of dispersing the material to ignite the fire for the controlled burn. Girlfriend Corri Scher and brother Sean Mullen say that Brendan had little time to react.
"I think it's kind of a blur to him," she said. "Except that the lights went on indicating some type of failure and they had... seconds to prepare for the crash."
Sean Mullen said his brother's main concern was to save the other men.
"As soon as he cut himself out of those two harnesses, he headed to the front of the airplane," he said. "His intent was those two guys."
"He couldn't get them out," Scher added. "I don't know if he couldn't get their buckles undone or what."
Added his brother: "The fire was too intense. He tried."
Mullen, who has been employed with The U.S. Forest Service for 23 years, is weak, but recovering.
"The biggest thing he talks about was the crash and how unfair it was the he got out of there and they didn't," Scher said.
The first thing he said to them when he could talk: "He said, 'I tried to save them. I tried to save them.'"
Mullen, who will be 43 on April 10, has been coming to Mississippi to work controlled burns for years. After the crash, he was airlifted to USA Medical Center, the only Level One trauma and burn center in the Gulf region. His injuries are extensive. The Montana resident has burns, internal injuries, a fractured neck and damage to his back. He is expected to be at USA Medical Center for at least three to four weeks.
But, as he recovers, the families of those who lost their lives will always be on their minds.
"We both want to send out condolences to the families," Sean Mullen said. "You're in our prayers."
To keep up with Mullen's recovery, visit: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/brendanmullen/journal/view/id/551c21878b5cd3ac04f8360e