Parts of Thursday’s crashed chopper will be tested
PRINCEVILLE, Kauai » The investigative team in charge of finding the cause of Thursday's Heli USA crash might have to pause their investigation for a few days and concentrate on yesterday's crash, the lead investigator said yesterday.
Brian Rayner, lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said that despite the possible pause, investigators were able to take apart some of the main components and will test them off island in the next few days.
While the main body of the A-Star 350BA aircraft was transported yesterday to a Lihue Airport hangar, Rayner said the engine and hydraulics system will be sent to the manufacturers so that they can be test-run to determine whether they were functioning properly at the time of the crash.
The hydraulic pump was removed as "one unit, going intact" to the manufacturer to be tested, Rayner said. Other hydraulics components will also be shipped to their manufacturers.
Federal officials will be on hand when the equipment is tested, Rayner said.
Nigel Turner, chief executive officer of Heli USA, arrived on Kauai yesterday, both to help in any way with the investigation, he said, and to offer his condolences to the families of those aboard the chopper.
"At present our major concern is for the ... families," Turner said. While flights to Kauai have been a "nightmare," he said all the relatives of the crash victims have arrived in the state.
Turner said he is also planning a memorial service for his friend and fellow pilot, Joe Sulak, with Sulak's family, who is on Kauai. Sulak, whom Turner called a friend, worked on Kauai as the lead pilot for Heli USA for the past four years and, prior to that, worked as a tour operator for Heli USA on the mainland.
"We were all very close to Joe," he said. His "family wants to spend time here to grieve and also with our staff."
Cornelius Scholtz, 31, of Santa Maria, Calif., one of three passengers who survived Thursday's helicopter crash at Princeville Airport, remained in critical condition at the Queen's Medical Center yesterday, according to a nursing supervisor. His wife, Magriet Inglebrecht, was one of four people who died in the crash.
Besides Inglebrecht and Sulak, 59, of Princeville, Kauai, John O'Donnell, 45, of East Rockaway, N.Y., and Teri McCarty, 47, of Cabot, Ark., also died in the crash.
The conditions of O'Donnell's wife, Veronica, 45, and McCarty's husband, James, 48, were not available, said a nursing supervisor. Both survived the crash and were transported to Queen's.
Star-Bulletin reporter Rosemarie Bernardo contributed to this report.