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4 Bodies Found at Hawaii Crash Site

September 28, 2004|From Associated Press

LIHUE, Hawaii — Rescue workers who trekked to the wreckage of a tour helicopter in a remote mountainous area of Kauai found the bodies of four people Monday. They were searching for the body of the fifth person on board the craft.

Four county firefighters were dropped atop the mountain by an Army Black Hawk helicopter and made their way on foot through thick vegetation down the steep cliff face, said Cyndi Ozaki, spokeswoman for Kauai County.

The helicopter then used a line to lift out the bodies of the victims one at a time.

Ozaki said the tour helicopter apparently slid down from the point where it crashed into the mountain, although she could not say how far. She said there were no survivors.

Authorities said the aircraft burst into flames on impact and was burned beyond recognition.

Aboard the privately operated tour helicopter were the pilot, a 36-year-old man, a 30-year-old woman and a German couple, officials said. No names were released.

The recovery effort has been hampered by cloud cover, rain and wind, as well as the remote location. On Sunday, winds gusting up to 60 mph prevented helicopters from lowering rescue workers to the site.

The helicopter, which belonged to Bali Hai Helicopter Tours, was reported missing Friday after failing to return from a tour, officials said.

A crew on a Coast Guard helicopter spotted the crash site Saturday.

The pilot formerly flew with India's air force and had flown tours for two months, said Coast Guard Lt. Danny Shaw.

The helicopter was about 26 years old, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

In July 2003, five people were killed when a tour helicopter operated by a different company crashed in central Kauai.

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