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Sunday, September 25, 2005
Wreckage recovery planned
The NTSB begins its investigation
"There was a squall line coming through," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Allen Aber. "Visibility was low."
When they arrived, only debris and a small portion of the downed craft could be seen in the water. Two people were floating in the water and three others were swimming toward shore with the assistance of surfers, the Navy fliers said.
In the helicopter, the team performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on the victims, but got no response.
The Kaneohe-based crew had been training on Kauai for about a week when they got a call to help look for survivors. They returned to Oahu yesterday.
The Coast Guard recovered a third body.
What is left of the helicopter is sitting in about 25 to 30 feet of water near the mouth of Limahuli Stream between Kee Beach and Haena Beach. Charnon added that it's well-marked and there is "decent" water visibility in the area.
Once the wreckage of the helicopter is recovered, it will likely be transported via helicopter to Hanalei and then moved by truck to a secure location at Lihue Airport, Charnon said.
The six people on the helicopter tour left Lihue Airport just before 2 p.m. Friday, said Ishikawa.
According to the Heli USA Web site, the Las Vegas-based company offers only one tour from Lihue -- the "Kauai Deluxe Island Kamaaina Helicopter Tour," a 45-minute trip over waterfalls, Waimea Canyon, Kalalau Valley and other Kauai landmarks.
If the tour was following the normal route, it had just finished touring Kalalau Valley and was moving towards Hanalei Valley when it crashed at around 2:41 p.m.
Jeff Power, Heli USA vice president of marketing, said via e-mail yesterday that the company was "in the process of working with the local authorities to notify the families of all passengers involved and we are doing everything we can to assist them."
Heli USA suspended its operations on Kauai yesterday, Power said, "out of respect for the passengers."
But all other helicopter tour companies on Kauai were operating, and none reported any problems Friday.