A tour helicopter plunged into the waters near the USS Arizona Memorial visitor center theater this morning, injuring the five people on board who were rushed to shore by rescue personnel and bystanders.
At least one person, a 16-year-old boy, was critically injured, city Emergency Medical Services reported. Paramedics took two others, a 50-year-old man and 45-year-old woman, to the hospital in stable condition, following the crash at about 10:30 a.m.
Two other people were taken to the hospital by federal firefighters. No information was immediately available on their conditions.
A video posted on YouTube showed the helicopter approaching the shoreline of the visitors center and crashing about 10 feet offshore.
Chris Gardner, a Keawe Adventures guide, said he heard an “auto-rotation — and not much of an engine sound of the rotors” shortly before the helicopter crashed into waters about 10 feet offshore and flipped upside down.
Gardner swam to the crash site in waters about 10 feet deep, and helped a federal police officer rescue an unconscious passenger from the helicopter.
“One guy was still stuck,” Gardner said. “So I jumped in and tried to extract him.”
Other passengers were in waters outside of the aircraft, clutching flotation devices, he said.
Gardner and the police officer took turns cutting a seat belt strapped to a young man until they were able to pull him from his starboard rear seat. “It was so murky under there,” Gardner said.
The first responders included Navy boats from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and federal firefighters, according to the Navy.
Amber Moncrieff, a tourist from Australia, said she was waiting in line for the 10:45 a.m. showing of the movie at the National Park’s visitor center theater, when she heard two loud bangs.
Another member of her group walked around the theater and saw that a helicopter had crashed.
“There were a lot of young men coming out of the water wet,” Moncrieff said.
She said they apparently had jumped into the water to help pull people to safety.
“The vision of the rescuers coming out,” stuck in her mind, Moncrieff said. “When something bad happens, so many people will come out and help.”
Moncrieff said she saw at least four people being taken away in stretchers. Paramedics were administering CPR to one victim, she said.
The National Parks Service and the Navy closed the USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center shortly after the crash. The Visitors Center will be open Friday but the film that depicts events leading to the Pearl Harbor attacks and boat tours to the memorial are suspending because of the crash investigation, the Park Service said.
The Navy said the helicopter apparently belonged to Genesis Aviation. The company features the Hawaii News Now helicopter on its website.
It advertises “Doors Off” helicopter tours and the company’s web site features a prominent aerial photo of the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor.
A check of the tail number of the helicopter that crashed showed it is a 1979 Bell 206B helicopter, known as a Jet Ranger. According to FAA records, the Bell 206B is owned by Jeffrey Gebhard, of Kailua, who owns Genesis Aviation. The helicopter has a valid certificate that was issued in August.
It can carry four passengers and a pilot, according to the Genesis Aviation website.
Federal Aviation Administration investigators are en route and the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates aviation crashes, has been notified, said Lynn Lunsford, an FAA spokeswoman.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporters Craig Gima, Dan Nakaso, Maureen O’Connell, William Cole and Gregg K. Kakesako contributed to this report.
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Be safe. We have gravity here in Hawaii.
Do they get a refund?
Next fright 50% off
Your comments are immature and insensitive considering the unknown condition of the passengers. Show a little constraint when trying to make light of a serious situation. I know it’s hard for folks like you but I have faith you can do it.
Erad… My bumper sticker says that I will refuse to grow up.
Coupon expires on October, 31th?
If it doesn’t have fixed wings, I ain’t go’in!!!!!
Only Buffalo Wild Wings?
“Holy Cr@#!” is right braddah! Glad they all okay!
Different report said the kid died. RIP.
chopstix. Rumor has it that our elected officials in Hawaii are thinking of another harassment law of making it against the law to die in a helicopter crash. They sure know how to think outside of the box.
Only the okole stay sore. No big thing.
what’s with all these aircraft that want to go swimming now.
and at least it was a “soft” landing.
That’s what happens when the car wash places don’t accept aircraft to go through the car washing machine.
how come private business gets to fly a helicopter full with paying tourists in a secured military base area? Now ISIS know they can buy tourist package on a helicopter and fly around Pearl…no make sense…hope the big brass at Pearl stop this nonsense…
Helicopter was not flying over secure military base. Was in open areas around the base. Flight plan is fully FAA/Military approved.
do you have official document supporting this statement…if yes, as a TAXPAYER, I WOULD CHALLENGE FAA TO ALLOW THIS TYPE OF NONSENSE TO FLY AROUND PEARL….WHAT IF THE BUGGAH WHEN CRASH INTO A SHIP OR THE AZ MEMORIAL….NOW THE PEARL BIG BRASS IN BIG KUKAI…..
We need more helicopter regulations. I live in the McCully area and hear all these helicopters both commercial and military flying all hours of the day and night. The commercial ones are constantly flying all around Waikiki and especially during the Waikiki fireworks on Friday, Saturday nights. All it takes is one to slam into a hotel killing hundreds and then regulations will happen. Hawaii politicians are so reactive and never proactive. Just look at the roads in KAAWA. Only proactive when it comes to there kickback money.
Anything to enhance tourist accommodations to make it an enjoyable experience. Down side accidents happen
Get a life. Would you like some cheese with your whine?
My cutting the cheese sound like I am whining. Poor little me.
Good. Keep the noise in Waikiki, and not in Kailua.
To SA, great reporting in a timely fashion……….so unusual for SA…
Everyone gets lucky sometime in their life.
My back hurts watching that, ouch!
My heavy and over weight puppies can give you a back massage.
Lucky thing it hit the water, as a landing on solid ground may have resulted in fatalities. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will look into this accident. It appeared on You Tube that the helicopter somehow lost lift. Did the engines give out?
Lucky the crash occurred near shore. The water also eased fire concerns. Maybe the strong side wise winds had something to do with it. On the H-3, a strong enough wind on a smaller car may have adverse consequences. The wind buffeted my car from the sides.
We all have a guardian angel with us to protect us at all times.
Our State definitely needs to set some regulations on these tour helicopters. Today we saw 5 people crash into Pearl Harbor and it’s only a matter of time before they crash into one of our communities. Their flight patterns should border the shoreline and not our homes, schools. Don’t forget the people that LIVE here and hear them flying overhead every few minutes on a daily basis. These greedy companies care nothing about the impact they have on the residents that live here. They fly 7 days a week, holidays, in the rain, all for the mighty dollar. Everyone hates them, yet they are allowed to fly over communities that have to catch rainwater AND deal with their polluting exhaust fallout. Thanks heli-tours, you guys are a class operation, wonderful Aloha you show the people of Hawaii.
Do you understand that “it’s only a matter of time” means the same thing as “never happened,” right? It means that in 40-odd years, your dire consequences have never happened. I don’t know for sure, but statistically, you are probably more ecologically unfriendly and less concerned about public safety because you drive a car every day. Just saying….
Odds ratio? I know a man who wins the small lottery, <$50K, every year in Vegas.
Well if it does ever happen…hope it lands on you.
Well, that’s nice. Now, go curl up in a bucket.
Hawaii is busy with the harassment laws for now. Maybe later on, we will have regs to improve the economy, and keep us safe.