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NTSB investigators face challenges with Kauai tour helicopter crash

  • COURTESY COUNTY OF KAUAI
                                A helipad in a clearing used by investigators and rescue personnel was seen, Saturday, near the crash site of a Safari Helicopters aircraft that killed seven people in the mountains above Kokee, Kauai. NTSB investigators arrived Sunday to lead the investigation into what led to the fatal crash.

    COURTESY COUNTY OF KAUAI

    A helipad in a clearing used by investigators and rescue personnel was seen, Saturday, near the crash site of a Safari Helicopters aircraft that killed seven people in the mountains above Kokee, Kauai. NTSB investigators arrived Sunday to lead the investigation into what led to the fatal crash.

Investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board are working on logistics to access the wreckage site of Thursday’s deadly tour helicopter crash in a remote area of Kokee.

“The logistics (are) very, very challenging,” said NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss this morning. “We’re working on that right now.”

A Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter operated by Safari Helicopters crashed Thursday, killing seven people.

The crash site is about 1.3 miles inland where the aircraft apparently struck a cliff face before falling 50 to 100 yards, according to Kauai Fire Department Battalion Chief Solomon Konoho.

The helicopter took off from Lihue to tour the Napali Coast Thursday and was due to return at 5:21 p.m. The pilot’s last communication was at 4:40 p.m. when he relayed they were leaving the Waimea Canyon area.

Two families and the pilot were killed in crash.

Two passengers has been identified as Amy Gannon, 47, and her daughter, Jocelyn Gannon, 13, of Madison, Wis. The pilot was identified as Paul Matero, 69, of Wailua.

Four other passengers killed in the crash believed to be a family from Switzerland have yet to be identified. Police said the victims were a 50-year-old woman, 49-year-old man and two girls ages 13 and 10.

Weiss said the investigative team is slated to look for any electronic devices, examine aircraft parts and investigate surrounding areas of the crash site.

“We will look to see if there are any tree strikes or any terrain markings to the determine the path the helicopter took,” he added.

The team’s probe also involves looking into the weather conditions at the time of the crash and delving into the pilot’s training records and helicopter’s maintenance records.

Matero’s wife, Donna Dublin, has said her husband was an experienced and safety-oriented pilot who flew the Napali tour approximately four days a week.

NTSB investigators will be on Kauai for a week or possibly longer.

Weiss said a preliminary report is expected to be released within 10 days of the crash.

A final report on the probable cause can take up to 18 to 24 months to complete.

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