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3 rescued after helicopter lands on Kaneohe Bay sandbar

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    Firefighters respond today to Heeia Kea Pier following a report of a downed helicopter off Kaneohe Bay.

Three people were in serious condition today after a private helicopter landed on a sandbar in Kaneohe Bay.

A 35-year-old woman sustained leg injuries and a 31-year-old man had a right-arm injury. The 57-year-old male pilot had a head laceration and a right-arm injury. All three had spinal injuries and were transported to a trauma center.

The Honolulu Fire Department received a call at 5:12 p.m.

HFD Capt. Scot Seguirant said that the helicopter was on the sandbar in Kaneohe Bay in an upright position. There was no fire.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Wyrick said a non-military helicopter landed on the sandbar.

“I don’t know why they landed there,” she said. “I don’t know that it was an emergency landing.”

A 17-foot fishing boat in the area was the first to respond to the helicopter.

The first person rescue personnel brought back to shore from the helicopter was able to walk up the boat ramp, but the other two were each carried from the water, a witness said.

The three occupants were recovered by Ocean Safety and Honolulu firefighters, were brought to shore, and were transported to the Queen’s Medical Center, the Coast Guard said. The Department of Land and Natural Resources was on scene, and officials were assessing for pollution from the landing.

A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter also responded as well as a C-130 airplane that was already flying when the incident happened.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii said it had at least one big CH-53E Super Stallion in the air assisting.

About seven years ago, a Marine died after a military helicopter crashed in Kaneohe Bay.

In March 29, 2011, an aging Marine Corps CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter crashed on the Kaneohe Bay sandbar, killing 22-year-old Cpl. Jonathan D. Faircloth. Three other crew members also were injured when the big helicopter made a “hard impact” landing from an altitude of about 300 feet while on a night training flight. The chopper ended up on its side.

The crash was caused by a “catastrophic mechanical failure” as pilots struggled to maintain control, an investigation concluded. The Sea Stallions were retired and replaced by newer CH-53E Super Stallions.

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