POLITICS

Remains Of 6 Passengers Found After Crash Of Kauai Tour Helicopter

Officials believe 7 passengers were on board for air tour, but "there are no indications" of any survivors, said a fire chief.
The Na Pali Coast spans over 15 miles of undeveloped coastline on the northwestern coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The Na Pali Coast spans over 15 miles of undeveloped coastline on the northwestern coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

The remains of six people were found Friday by a search team after the discovery of the wreckage of a tour helicopter that had gone missing on the island of Kauai the night before, according to county officials.

Seven people are believed to have been on the aircraft, including the pilot and two children. “There are no indications of survivors,” Kauai Fire Battalion Chief Sol Kanoho told reporters

The aircraft from the tour company Safari Helicopters was found in the Kōkeʻe State Park near a remote area known as Nuʻalolo.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these passengers,” Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami said in an earlier statement before the remains were found, according to The Associated Press. 

The owner of the helicopter reported the aircraft missing on Thursday evening, less than an hour after it failed to return from its tour of the Na Pali Coast as scheduled at 5:21 p.m. 

Speaking at a press conference Friday afternoon, Kanoho said officials were trying to contact the family members of the passengers who were listed on the flight manifest.

Kanoho did not release the names of the passengers but told reporters there were two separate families on Thursday’s tour. One group was a party of two while the other group was a party of four.

The Na Pali Coast spans over 15 miles of undeveloped coastline on the northwestern coast of the Kauai, a mostly rural island with a population of just over 72,000. Kōkeʻe State Park is adjacent to Na Pali and both are popular sites for helicopter tours.

The search for the helicopter lasted 18 hours. The downed helicopter was located in an area that is part of the planned routes for helicopter tours in the northwestern part of Kauai.

Wind, clouds and rain complicated search efforts that stretched from Thursday evening into Friday morning. The helicopter was equipped with an electronic locator but officials could not detect a signal.

Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox, of the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu, called weather conditions during the search “challenging.”

The Coast Guard’s efforts were a part of a larger, multiagency search by the Kauai fire and police departments, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii Air National Guard and the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

Rain and clouds limited visibility to a four-mile range about three hours after the helicopter was reported missing, according to the Coast Guard.

This story has been updated with news of the latest discovery.

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