A helicopter crash in the waters near the USS Arizona Memorial has left a 15-year-old boy critically injured. Five people were on board when the helicopter, owned by Genesis Helicopters, crashed during an aerial tour of Pearl Harbor.
The accident happened at around 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, February 18 in the area near the National Park Service Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the Ford Island Bridge.
Witnesses said they knew right away that something was wrong when they saw the chopper around 30 yards offshore. They reported that the propeller stopped working, which was then followed by a large bang. The chopper flew erratically for a few moments before falling approximately 30 feet straight down into the waters below. The helicopter rolled over and began to sink.
Because the accident occurred so close to the shoreline, bystanders immediately ran over to the chopper to render aid to the five passengers trapped inside. Four were removed without incident from the cabin, but the 15-year-old boy was trapped in his seat. A Navy policeman and another rescuer took turns cutting the boy’s seatbelt with a knife and were finally able to get him out. The boy was transported to the hospital in critical condition. A 45-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man were also taken to the hospital in stable condition.
An investigation of exactly what went wrong is now underway, although a mechanical failure is suspected. Investigators are also looking into whether the tour helicopter was compliant with all rules and regulations before the crash. According to experts, the pilot had only seconds to react. This is the first time that this tour company has had an accident since its inception in 1999.
For more on this story, including a video clip of the accident taken by a bystander, please visit KHON 2 online.