Posted On 29 Dec 2019
Authorities on Saturday identified three of the seven victims of a deadly tour helicopter crash in Hawaii.
All on board were killed when the plane went down Thursday in a remote area of the Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai. The cause of the crash remained under investigation.
Among the dead were pilot Paul Matero, 69, of Wailua, and Amy Gannon, 47, and Jocelyn Gannon, 13, both of Wisconsin. The Kauai Police Department said in a Facebook post that autopsies were being conducted to positively confirm the identities of the others. Police said they are believed to be a family from Switzerland.
“There are no indications of survivors,” Battalion Chief Solomon Kanoho of the Kauai Fire Department said Friday after the remains of six victims were found near the crash site in a remote area of the rugged north coast.
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The helicopter had been reported overdue around 6 p.m. Thursday, setting off a search that ended with the grim discovery of wreckage and, later, bodies.
“We mourn with the family members of those who were lost in the tragic accident,” tour operator Safari Helicopter said in a statement. “… Safari is fully cooperating with the NTSB and the FAA to determine the cause of Thursday’s crash.”
The company said its pilot, Matero, was a “seasoned member” with 12 years of experience touring Kauai.
Kanoho said on Friday that there were members of two families on board, a party of two and a party of four.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending three investigators to the scene.
It was the third helicopter crash in Hawaii this year, according to NBC affiliate KHNL of Honolulu.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case, a Democrat who represents a district in Hawaii that includes Honolulu, said in a statement Friday that more must be done to regulate the tour and small-aircraft industries and improve safety.
In September, Case introduced a bill he said would impose strict regulations on commercial tour operators, including helicopters and small planes. It would require that tour flight pilots focus on flying the aircraft and not also act as tour guides. It also would restrict where they can fly and how low.
The FAA said it conducts random and regular surveillance on all Hawaii air tour operators and ensures companies address any issues. Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told The Associated Press the agency does not have concerns about the industry statewide.