Three seriously injured in helicopter accident in Hawaii
By LEILA FUJIMORI AND WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: October 23, 2018
HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — A small fishing boat crew rescued a pilot and two passengers seriously injured around 5 p.m. Monday when the private helicopter they were on somehow ended up on a watery sandbar in Kaneohe Bay.
A 35-year-old woman sustained leg injuries, a 31-year-old man had a right-arm injury and the 57-year-old male pilot had a head laceration and right-arm injury. All three had spinal injuries and were transported to a trauma center, Dustin Malama of the Emergency Services Department said.
The Honolulu Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard were called about the incident about 5:15 p.m.
The first engine was on scene in less than five minutes, but by that time a roughly 17-foot fishing vessel had gotten to the occupants of the helicopter and they were on board the boat, Battalion Chief Mark Nakagawa said.
When fire personnel got out to the area, the outer edge of the sandbar was 2 to 3 feet deep, and the tide was coming down, Nakagawa said.
HFD Capt. Scot Seguirant said the helicopter was on the sandbar in Kaneohe Bay in an upright position, and there was no fire. But HFD had no information on the helicopter or whether it made an emergency landing.
“I don’t know why they landed there,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Wyrick. “I don’t know that it was an emergency landing.”
Preston Swann, 29, a deckhand for Kaneohe Bay Ocean Sports, said he heard the distress call for the downed helicopter and went by speedboat to the site. When he arrived, he could see people standing in chest-high water on the sandbar. Emergency personnel were already responding, so they left so as not to get in the way.
A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter was dispatched, and a C-130 airplane already flying was providing aerial support. HFD sent a helicopter to the scene. And Marine Corps Base Hawaii said it had at least one big CH-53E Super Stallion in the air assisting.
The first victim rescue personnel brought back to shore from the helicopter was able to walk up the boat ramp, but the other two were each carried on a board from the water, a witness said.
An HFD and a Marine Base Hawaii water safety rescue watercraft with sleds brought the three people to shore, while Emergency Medical Services personnel treated and transported the patients to The Queen’s Medical Center, fire, Coast Guard and Emergency Services officials said.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources officials were assessing pollution from the landing, assisting with the helicopter and securing the site.