The Canadian couple who died in a helicopter crash on Molokai were taking their first vacation in several years.
Stuart Robertson was second in command at Toronto-based Quartet Service Inc., a technology management service company, where he had worked tirelessly for the last two-and-a-half years.
“I had recently promoted him and he went on a two-week break,” CEO Robert Bracey said Tuesday. “He had never done it before.”
Robertson, 50, and his wife Eva Birgitta Wannersjo, 47, were killed last week during a 45-minute sightseeing tour of West Maui and Molokai. Pilot Nathan Cline and newlyweds Michael and Nicole Abel of Pittsburgh also died when the helicopter plunged into a hillside above an elementary school.
For months, the Canadian couple planned their vacation, choosing to stay on Maui where they planned to hike and travel the scenic, winding road to Hana, Bracey said. It was their first trip to Hawaii.
“They had been to Europe, but this was the first real fancy vacation they had,” Bracey said, adding that Wannersjo was originally from Sweden. “They wanted to chill. They wanted to take a break. They wanted to sit back and enjoy things.”
The couple never mentioned planning to take a helicopter ride.
Robertson and Wannersjo had recently sold their home in the country and rented an apartment in Toronto. “They were enjoying the city like crazy, going on walks, going to coffee shops,” Bracey said.
A memorial to Robertson was posted on Quartet’s company website. “For some of us, Stuart’s passing is the loss of a close friend — for many of us, it’s the loss of an experienced mentor,” the message reads. “Our thoughts, and our hearts go out to Stuart’s friends and family, as well as to the friends and family of everyone that lost their lives in the crash.”
The National Transportation Safety Board will review maintenance records, the pilot’s medical history, radar data, weather reports, witness accounts and air traffic communications if it is available. A preliminary report is expected by the end of the week or early next week, though it can take months before a cause is determined.
The Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Eurocopter EC-130, which took off from Maui, was engulfed in flames after crashing into a hillside near Kilohana Elementary School. The school’s principal said there had just been a heavy downpour and he thought the loud boom from the crash was thunder.
A Blue Hawaiian chopper crashed in 2000 on Maui, killing all seven people on board.
On Monday, a Blue Hawaiian helicopter pilot made the decision to land on the Big Island as a precaution because of a suspected electrical problem, the Federal Aviation Administration said. None of the six people on board were injured.