TOM FINNEGAN / TFINNEGAN@STARBULLETIN.COM
Four people, including the pilot, were killed yesterday when a Heli USA helicopter experienced mechanical difficulties and crashed at Princeville Airport. Witnesses reported hearing a boom as far as a mile away and the crunching of metal. CLICK FOR LARGE
Kauai copter crash kills 4 and injures 3
Workers who rush to the scene find only one victim conscious
PRINCEVILLE, Kauai » Four people were killed and three critically injured yesterday in a Heli USA tour helicopter crash at the Princeville Airport.
Police confirmed that the pilot, identified as Joe "Helicopter Joe" Sulak, another man and two women died. Three victims were dead at the scene, while one died on the way to Wilcox Memorial Hospital.
The three survivors, a woman and two men, were treated at Wilcox but later flown by medevac in critical condition to the Queen's Medical Center last night, county officials said.
The passengers were three mainland couples, one each from New York, Arkansas and California. One person from each couple died, a county spokeswoman said.
The A-Star 350BA aircraft crashed at 3:02 p.m. near the runway, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor. The pilot reported a hydraulic failure about two miles into its flight and returned to the airport.
Sulak had more than 10,000 hours flying A-Star helicopters, Gregor said, and Sulak's Web site states that he had flown since the Vietnam War.
Eyewitnesses reported hearing a loud boom as far as a mile away and the crunching of metal as the helicopter hit the ground about 200 yards from its normal landing pad.
One Princeville man, who wished not to be identified, raced with Heli USA workmen to help the victims after hearing the crash from his Avis rental car office.
It was "no hero stuff," he said, but the four pulled the seven people from their seats. All appeared badly injured, he said, and only one was conscious. "A woman was in bad shape, crying for her husband," he said, but the man appeared beyond aid.
AP PHOTO/THE GARDEN ISLAND
, DENNIS FUJIMOTO
Investigators look over the wreckage of a helicopter outside of the Princeville Airport in Princeville, Hawaii, Thursday afternoon, March 8, 2007. According to officials, three people were killed and four critically injured when the tour helicopter crash on Kauai. CLICK FOR LARGE