Seven killed in Hawaii helicopter crash
HONOLULU (AP) — Tour helicopter operations in Hawaii have come under increased scrutiny after a deadly crash last week, one of several recent accidents in the state, with a congressman calling the trips unsafe and lacking proper oversight.
There were no survivors of a Thursday tour helicopter crash that killed three minors and four adults, officials confirmed, Saturday.
The helicopter that was set to tour the rugged Na Pali Coast, the picturesque and remote northern shoreline of Kauai that was featured in the film “Jurassic Park,” crashed on a mountaintop Thursday.
The remains of six people were recovered Friday and the seventh is still missing. Kauai police confirmed there were no survivors based in part on the nature of the crash and impact damage, officials said in a statement. Recovery efforts were suspended Saturday afternoon.
There were six people from two different families and a pilot on the flight.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case of Hawaii cited fatal accidents over the years, blaming the Federal Aviation Administration for not taking National Transportation Safety Board safety improvement efforts seriously and the industry for not regulating itself.
“Tour helicopter and small aircraft operations are not safe, and innocent lives are paying the price,” said Case, a Democrat.
“In our Hawaii alone, the industry, while stridently arguing that it is safe and sensitive to neighborhoods, has in fact ignored any sensible safety improvements, instead dramatically increasing in recent years its volume of flights, at all times of day and night, in seemingly all weather over more residential neighborhoods and to more risky and remote locations, at lower altitudes, while completely failing to address ground safety and community disruption concerns.”
The FAA, however, said it conducts regular surveillance on all Hawaii air tour operators and ensures companies address any issues, agency spokesman Ian Gregor said in an email. He said the FAA does not have concerns about the industry statewide.
Police on Kauai have preliminary identifications for three of the seven people aboard Thursday’s helicopter tour that crashed in a remote part of Hawaii.
In a statement Saturday, police said the flight manifest listed the pilot as Paul Matero, 69, of Wailua, Hawaii. Two passengers were named as 47-year-old Amy Gannon and 13-year-old Jocelyn Gannon of Wisconsin. Amy Gannon’s friend Dorecia Carr said Gannon’s death would rattle the city of Madison.