Recovery Efforts for Downed Kaua‘i Helicopter Resume Today

December 28, 2019, 7:06 AM HST (Updated December 28, 2019, 7:06 AM)
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The remains of six individuals were recovered Friday afternoon at the site of the helicopter wreckage in Kōke‘e near Nu‘alolo on Kaua‘i.

Seven individuals were confirmed to be on the flight, including one pilot and six passengers. Identities have not yet been released due to pending notification of next of kin.

Due to inclement weather, final recovery efforts were suspended Friday and will resume at first light on today.

“We are heartbroken by this tragedy and we continue to ask the public to consider the sensitive nature of this devastating situation,” said Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all victims during this extremely difficult time.”

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At approximately 6 p.m. Thursday, officials were notified of an overdue Safari Helicopter that was conducting a tour over the Nā Pali area. The helicopter was scheduled to arrive around 5:30 p.m. at the Līhu‘e landing pad. According to a preliminary report, the last contact with the helicopter was made at approximately 4:40 p.m., when the pilot relayed that the tour was leaving the Waimea Canyon area.

After overdue reports of the aircraft, a multi-agency search was launched Thursday night with the US Coast Guard responding via air and sea, and personnel from the Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kaua‘i Police Department, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawai‘i Air National Guard, and Pacific Missile Range Facility joining the effort on land.

Search operations continued early Friday morning with air searches being conducted by the Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kauai Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, Civil Air Patrol, and private helicopter companies. The U.S. Coast Guard also conducted a sea-based search.

Life’s Bridges, a grief-counseling agency, and the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau are also assisting the victims’ families.

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