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4 passengers killed in Kauai helicopter crash identified as Swiss tourists

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                                Safari Helicopters’ flight line is seen without any aircraft on Saturday in Lihue.


    Safari Helicopters’ flight line is seen without any aircraft on Saturday in Lihue.

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.

Kauai police today revealed the names of the four remaining passengers that died in Thursday’s tour helicopter crash in Kokee as they finalized recovery efforts this afternoon.

According to a preliminary report from a flight manifest, Kauai police believe that four of the six passengers were a family from Switzerland — Sylvie Winteregg, 50, Christophe Winteregg, 49, Alice Winteregg, 13, and Agathe Winteregg, 10.

From the same flight manifest, Kauai police earlier identified the pilot to be Paul Matero, 69, of Wailua and two other passengers as Amy Gannon, 47, and Jocelyn Gannon, 13, of Madison, Wisc.

Due to the nature of the crash and impact damage, Kauai police have confirmed that there are no survivors.

The Kauai Police Department said this afternoon it would wrap up its efforts to recover the remains and personal effects of the pilot and passengers aboard the helicopter.

“We have recovered as much as we can from the site so that families can hopefully find some sense of closure,” said KPD assistant Chief Bryson Ponce in a news release. “We ask that the public please continue to remember those who have just lost their loved ones and to remain sensitive while they grieve their loss. Again, our deepest, heartfelt condolences go out to everyone who was touched by this tragedy.”


A Kauai tour helicopter that crashed and killed all seven people on board hit a ridge at an altitude of 2,900 feet then fell about 100 feet, the National Transportation Safety Board said today as investigators planned how to recover the wreckage from the remote and rugged crash site.

“A post-crash fire consumed much of the aircraft,” the NTSB said in an investigative update. “In the coming days the wreckage will be moved to a secure location where investigators will conduct a more thorough examination of the recovered evidence. Details and timing are still being worked out.”

The helicopter’s commercial pilot and six passengers were killed in Thursday’s crash. It was set to tour the Na Pali Coast, the picturesque and remote northern shoreline of Kauai that was featured in the film “Jurassic Park.”

The pilot, Paul Matero, did not have an instrument rating, which allows pilots to fly in bad weather, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Most of the pilots that fly tour helicopters in Hawaii either don’t have an instrument rating or their instrument rating isn’t current,”said Ladd Sanger, a Texas-based aviation attorney and helicopter pilot who has handled Hawaii crash cases. “When you have dynamic weather conditions, where you have clouds and winds, it might be more prudent not to fly in those conditions.”

National Weather Service meteorologists said the agency was not releasing information on Thursday’s weather conditions on Kauai. Weather service reports from Thursday said late in the afternoon high pressure far northwest of the state would cause winds across Kauai to shift out of the northwest.

A team of investigators who arrived on Kauai will be looking at weather conditions, NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said.

Investigator-In-Charge Brice Banning, from Alaska, flew over the crash site Monday to evaluate conditions and photograph the wreckage path, the NTSB update said.

The helicopter company, identified as Safari Helicopters, contacted the Coast Guard on Thursday evening after the tour did not return to the airport as scheduled. A search began but steep terrain, low visibility, choppy seas and rain complicated the search.

Company representatives didn’t immediately return phone and email messages Tuesday.

The pilot’s commercial pilot certificate would have had limitations on flying at night and more than 50 nautical miles.

Sanger said those limitations wouldn’t have been issues in the crash.

The flight departed Lihue Airport at 4:31 p.m., according to the NTSB. and crashed about 4:57 p.m.

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