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Mechanic will buy new helicopter and car to replace damaged ones

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:43 a.m. HST, May 15, 2013

The mechanic who is taking the blame for last week's helicopter crash landing in downtown Honolulu says he's buying a new copter for the company that leased the aircraft. He's also buying a new car for the college student whose parked Mazda was badly damaged when the helicopter skidded down a street.

Brant Swigart said Tuesday he's making the purchases to make up for not seeing the problem that caused the small helicopter's engine failure. No one was badly hurt when the pilot was forced to crash-land on the street, but Swigart said he feels terrible that it could have been deadly.

Buying a replacement helicopter for Mauna Loa Helicopters shows Swigart's character, said the company's president, Benjamin Fouts.

"He's just trying to take responsibility for what happened and make sure he does the right thing," Fouts said. "He's truly one-of-a-kind."

Soon after last week's crash, Swigart came forward to say the engine failure was his fault because he overlooked incorrect rigging that caused a cable to snap.

Fouts said while a brand-new Robinson R22 Beta can cost $270,000, Swigart will buy something that's similar to the condition of the 1992 copter. Fouts said he doesn't know how much that will cost.

Pilot Julia Link was a bit apprehensive about getting back in the pilot's seat, but she flew a helicopter Monday for the first time since the emergency landing. Fouts said he and Link went on a flight over Punchbowl Crater, which is where she was flying last week with a photographer taking aerial shots.

When the helicopter lost power, her knowledge of the area helped her land on a street that she knew was a one-way and had no overhead wires, Fouts said.

"I just couldn't believe how well she handled it," he said.

Swigart called the Hawaii Pacific University student Monday about replacing his car.

"I figure he's pretty much an innocent victim," he said.

Matthew Lau was taking final exams when the helicopter damaged his 2012 Mazda 6. He said he's not sure if he'll take Swigart up on his offer or go through insurance.

Lau, 28, said his insurance company is determining whether the car is a total loss.

"I respect he took responsibility for this," Lau said. "It's great that Brant came out and said he'd buy me a new one outright."

Lau said he had saved up while serving in the Army National Guard and doing three tours in Iraq to buy the brand new car.

Swigart said he doesn't have the $22,000 in cash to replace that car, but he'll either take out a loan or take care of Lau's new car payments.

"I'm trying to find money all day," he said. "I'll make it happen."

Swigart has been commended for taking responsibility, but he said he's just trying to do what's right.

"If his insurance company is going to sue, I might as well buy him a car," he said. "What's the point in me running and hiding?"

He said he also wants to try and prevent insurance rates from increasing for Fouts and Lau.

He said he doesn't regret coming forward and taking blame: "I just feel that's the way everybody should be."

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lowtone123 wrote:
Way to man up!
on May 14,2013 | 11:24AM
gobows wrote:
I wonder how the kid's car insurance company will handle it?
on May 14,2013 | 11:29AM
Bdpapa wrote:
They will probably give him market value and the mechanic will make up the difference for another car.
on May 14,2013 | 01:26PM
cllewis wrote:
They may front the money, whether it covers a new car or just the fair market value, but they will most likely seek reimbursement from the Mechanic. Hopefully, they will be decent and work with him to get the kid a new car ASAP and work out some loan/payment plan for the Mechanic.
on May 14,2013 | 02:50PM
Sunny wrote:
I would not feel comfortable riding in a helicopter that is smaller than the car!
on May 14,2013 | 11:30AM
what wrote:
Swigart has really stepped up and shown everybody how to be an exceptional human being.
on May 14,2013 | 11:33AM
Hanalei13 wrote:
We should crowdfund to help this guy pay for the new copter and car. He's already shown his character, no reason for him to have to shell out 100k if we can all chip in a couple bucks to make things right for all parties involved!
on May 14,2013 | 11:33AM
Bdpapa wrote:
I'm in for this.
on May 14,2013 | 01:27PM
patk wrote:
I'm game too. Somebody set something up.
on May 14,2013 | 02:26PM
localgirl2 wrote:
I agree! Anyone want to set up a fund for him through some financial institution? I'd contribute. Great idea Hanalei! How about the Advertiser as they publish these things all the time...I'll help out $.
on May 15,2013 | 08:26AM
islandmom wrote:
In a world and time when people are so concerned about liability and pointing fingers at other people, he is clearly an honest, honorable man. It could have been a deadly mistake, which he realizes and takes responsibility for. Good for him!
on May 14,2013 | 11:39AM
badcard36 wrote:
This story is full of the kind of news that should be front and center. First off, if there were more people like Brant Swigart in the world today, it would be much better place to live and raise a family. What a great example of a decent human being. I am so glad to have him as a resident of Hawaii. Second, Pilot Julia Link is a hero. Her actions that day not only saved her life and her passenger's but also countless lives on the ground. What a true professional and only 30 years old too! Another fine resident of the Aloha State. I am so proud of both of you.
on May 14,2013 | 11:51AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
Brant Swigart is a man of enormous honor and integrity. On the same day of the crash he spoke up to say it was his fault; and now he is personally paying the costs to both the tour company and the car owner. I want this newspaper to make this story the headline featured article on Wednesday. I would support this man to be a candidate for head of any corporation, or for any political office he might feel qualified to fill. I wonder, will President Obama or ex-Secretary of State Clinton step up to take responsibility for failure to provide proper security for the consulate in Benghazi during the weeks before the attack, failure to provide a rapid strike force to put an end to the attack once it was underway, and failure to report the truth about what had happened? They could take a lesson from Brant Swigart.
on May 14,2013 | 12:22PM
allie wrote:
on May 14,2013 | 02:01PM
WKAMA wrote:
I thought they already did.
on May 14,2013 | 06:37PM
juscasting wrote:
WOW! I wonder what his salary is? Or did he plant a money tree in his back yard?
on May 14,2013 | 12:29PM
patk wrote:
He's the owner of the company, and doesn't have the money but is taking out loans to do the honorable thing. Wow.
on May 14,2013 | 02:29PM
mikethenovice wrote:
The money tree is called the taxpayer bailout.
on May 15,2013 | 06:14AM
entrkn wrote:
That helicopter looks like it will be flying again soon.
on May 14,2013 | 12:35PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
What a stand up guy
on May 14,2013 | 12:58PM
torxman wrote:
If anybody had die or were critically injured, he wouldn't have spoke to the media. He would be preparing for a law suit that would cost much more than a car and helicopter.
on May 14,2013 | 01:15PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
You don't know that. I wouldn't you two guy share the same ethics.

There's still no guarantee that someone won't try to sue him now that he's accepted responsibility. Doing the right thing entails the risk that it will cost you dearly.

It would have very easy for him to act like a Honolulu City official and have some "spokesman" say that "we don't comment on ongoing investigations." Remember when the Honolulu Facilities Management did all that illegal dumping on overtime and raked City taxpayers back AND forth over the coals? There was an awful lot of that then. Heck, it took Mayor Caldwell a week just to release the name of his chief of staff because he was stone walling so hard.

That's why Brant Swigart is such a breath of fresh air and everyone is celebrating his integrity!

on May 14,2013 | 01:32PM
mikethenovice wrote:
That's the American way. Rip each other off!
on May 15,2013 | 06:15AM
patk wrote:
We're not talking about you, we're talking about Swigart.
on May 14,2013 | 02:30PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Yea but so what, no body died, and the guy is taking responsibility.
on May 14,2013 | 03:56PM
mikethenovice wrote:
I second your motion.
on May 15,2013 | 06:14AM
localgirl2 wrote:
Torxman, cut him some slack. Accidents happen. He said he overlooked, didn't say he turned a blind eye. He's not perfect, just willing to do his best to restore what was lost. We ALL make mistakes!
on May 15,2013 | 08:28AM
silvangold wrote:
ok SA ...... did you already hire for that proofing-reading technician or whatever you guys calt that position...if you read this article through, you will be reading it over and over ......5 times. WOW. Post that open position soon!
on May 14,2013 | 01:56PM
allie wrote:
decent guy. Too few out here take any responsibility
on May 14,2013 | 02:00PM
gobows wrote:
KUDOS to Pilot Julia Link for an AWESOME performance in handling her helicopter.
on May 14,2013 | 02:29PM
localguy wrote:
Our elected bureaucrats would do well to follow the example of Brant Swigart. Knowing he was responsible for the accident, he never hesitated to do what is right, admit it was his fault and make amends. Now if this was one of our many elected bureaucrats, they would have a spokesperson trying to spin it a thousand ways, refuse to talk about it on camera, and give the over used line, "I have already moved on." Well, just another example of a person who does what is right versus a bureaucrat who has no clue what is right and ethical.
on May 14,2013 | 02:47PM
lwandcah wrote:
Wow! Is this guy for real? Does he walk on water also? I am speechless
on May 14,2013 | 03:52PM
sak wrote:
As a Retired Aircraft Mechanic with over 30 years of being a holder of a A&P License, which is required to work on Aircraft. There is a FAA rule of "Self Disclosure". That if you self disclose an error on your part, within so many hours, if I remember right it was 72 hours, before an investigation finds that you are at fault, the error you made and confessed to making will not be held against your license you hold. There will be no penalty phase of suspension or revocation of your licenses or even a monetary fine. I have done the self disclosure myself when an error was made on my part. And fortunately on my part too, no one was injured or killed because of my error. But during my long career, I always thought that if my error did cause someones death or injury, I would have most likely just killed myself for making such a big mistake that caused the problem, because it would have been very difficult for me to live with myself. I have made a few small mistakes, but have been very lucky too, and have learned from the mistakes I made, to be just more careful, and double and triple check my work performed. Thank the Lord or whoever you believe in that it just wasn't the pilots, passengers, or even an innocent bystanders day to meet their maker.
on May 14,2013 | 04:50PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Ah Ha! Sounds like a good reason to take responsibility if he knows it was his fault and the info was going to come to light eventually. Smart move, he looks like a stand up guy and saves his license at the same time.
on May 14,2013 | 05:10PM
iwanaknow wrote:
kudo's to integrity!.........................an ingredient sadly missing in abundance in this world.
on May 14,2013 | 05:10PM
mikethenovice wrote:
Integrity is double checking your equipment before flying over the public. That did not happen.
on May 15,2013 | 06:17AM
awahana wrote:
Tragedy turns into integrity. Fantastic.
on May 14,2013 | 09:31PM
Locokane wrote:
on May 14,2013 | 09:38PM
McB0B wrote:
And I thought integrity and class were extinct.
on May 15,2013 | 12:41AM
mikethenovice wrote:
It is vanishing. It's one man for himself.
on May 15,2013 | 06:17AM
mikethenovice wrote:
This man got off cheap for his negligence. Imagine him paying million if a life was lost.
on May 15,2013 | 05:57AM
mikethenovice wrote:
People like this mechanic who throw caution into the wind don't make us feel safe and secured while we walk and drive in public. We'll be looking upwards every time we hear a chopper. Does that count as PTSD?
on May 15,2013 | 06:00AM
mikethenovice wrote:
The taxpayer will be picking up this tab when he claims this lost on his IRS taxes.
on May 15,2013 | 06:10AM
mikethenovice wrote:
That small helicopter looks like it was home made in a garage. Too small to handle the wind?
on May 15,2013 | 06:13AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Speaking of tossing caution into the wind. Look at all the cars on the road with bald tires. I see them parked in the mall parking lot as I walk to the bus stop. No integrity here.
on May 15,2013 | 06:20AM
inHilo wrote:
Stay off the coffee, mike.
on May 15,2013 | 06:30AM
localgirl2 wrote:
too much noise making, stick to the subject, the stand up man.
on May 15,2013 | 08:32AM
McB0B wrote:
Gee, Mike, get out much?
on May 20,2013 | 12:50AM
localgirl2 wrote:
My, my, what a refreshing attitude!! It seems in today's society no one is claiming responsibility for anything. You are to be commended. I pray that you'll be blessed by your attitude of responsibility. Thankfully the only damage was done to things that can be replaced. How did you realize so fast (without NTSB findings) what the problem was that caused the failure? Mahalo Mr Swigart, I salute you.
on May 15,2013 | 08:24AM
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