Hawaii tour helicopter crashes to the ground, kills 3 people | News Coverage from USA

Hawaii tour helicopter crashes to the ground, kills 3 people

A tour helicopter crashed in a suburban Hawaii community on Monday, killing all three people aboard. 

Witnesses said they saw fire and parts of the Robinson R44 aircraft plummet onto a two-lane road amid homes in Kailua, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Honolulu.

Resident Sommer Birkett told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser she had a clear view of the crash from her second-floor living room. 

“It sounded like a missile hit a plane,” Birkett told the Star-Advertiser. “I heard this loud sshhhh-boom! I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’ I looked out the window and I saw the helicopter nosedive onto Oneawa Street.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating why the four-seat aircraft crashed. The names of the crash victims have yet to be announced. Neighborhood residents did not report any injuries, said Shayne Enright, a spokeswoman for the Honolulu Department of Emergency Services, told the Star-Advertiser. 

As she drove down the street, witness Melissa Solomon said she looked up and saw the burning helicopter fall in front of her. She said she turned onto another street in case debris fell on her and her daughter.  

“We could have been smashed by it,” she said.

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The helicopter may have clipped power lines, Honolulu Police Lt. Wayne Wong told the Star-Advertiser.

“It could have impacted a bigger part of the community,” Wong said. “So, we’re just fortunate that it (was) … isolated in that one area.”

The helicopter was built in 2000 and is registered to United Helicopter Leasing LLC of Honolulu, according to FAA records.

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who represents Kailua, said she wants the FAA to prohibit tour flights over Hawaii’s residential areas and national parks. She also called for helicopter tours to be put on hold until the crash investigation is completed. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

 

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