BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Mercy Flight announced Sunday the death of their founder, Doug Baker at age 79.

Baker founded Mercy Flight in 1981 after serving as the owner and operator of LaSalle Ambulance Corps for over three decades. The service has benefitted hundreds of thousands of patients as the state’s first medically dedicated helicopter EMS organization.

According to the company’s outreach coordinator, he had been battling an illness.

“Doug’s legacy will live on in the [hundreds] of thousands of patients that have benefitted from these services. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Barbara, his children and the rest of the Baker family,” said Tommy LaBelle, a Flight Medic with Mercy Flight, posted on Facebook.

He received the NYS EMS Council’s Harriet C. Weber EMS Leadership Award in 2008 and the Association of Air Medical Services Marriott-Carlson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 for his contributions to the profession.

Funeral arrangements will be held Monday at 1 p.m. at Temple Beth Zion at 805 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, followed by a procession to Forest Lawn Cemetery at 1990 Main Street.

Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.