One of the most beautiful places on earth, the spectacular and unforgiving Na Pali coast of Kauai, Hawaii, was the site of a tragic mishap last week, and investigators want to know why it happened. The accident occurred last Thursday during a sightseeing flight with six passengers and one pilot in a single-engine Airbus AS350 operated by Safari Helicopters. Hawaii is a popular tourist destination throughout the year but is especially so around the winter holidays. It is believed that all six passengers were tourists visiting the islands.
While the coast of the remote island offers unrivaled helicopter sight seeing, the terrain is exceptionally steep and the canyons short with nearly vertical sides. The helicopter, says the NTSB, crashed into the side of a cliff face.
A hiker in the area might have heard the fated flight, according to a story on Hawaii News Now. In a phone call to the station, Lawrence Yadao Sr. said the weather went from warm and sunny to stormy in a matter of minutes, and he heard a helicopter hovering nearby in the suddenly arrived low clouds. It is unknown whether the helicopter he heard was the accident aircraft or not, and Yadao Sr. did not learn about the crash until he had returned from his hike.
In addition to the pilot, 69-year-old Paul Matero, killed in the crash were a family of four from Switzerland, including two children, just 10 and 13 years old, and a mother and child, 47-year-old Amy Gannon and her 13-year-old daughter Jocelyn. After the crash, Jocelyn’s father, who took a photo of the mother and daughter just before they climbed aboard the helicopter, suggested that his daughter was nervous about going on the flight but overcame her fears to climb onboard.
It took searchers days to find the bodies of the victims of the crash, and the NTSB, which is on site, is trying to determine just how much of the wreckage it will be able to recover from the treacherous site.
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