The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating the crash of a Bell 206 JetRanger into the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor while on a sight-seeing flight. The aircraft went down near the USS Arizona Memorial visitor’s center last Thursday morning. Five people were injured in the crash. One of the passengers, a 15-year-old boy visiting from Canada, was critically injured.
According to Shayne Enright, spokeswoman for Honolulu Emergency Services Department, bystanders jumped in to help the occupants of the helicopter when it settled in the water.
“I took off my shirt and dove in,” said Chris Gardner, a tour guide with Keawe Adventures who was with a group of tourists at the visitor center when he heard the crash. He and three other men took turns diving to the submerged helicopter and trying to free the teenaged passenger with a knife. “He was strapped into his seat in the back of the aircraft.”
Witnesses saw three people get out of the helicopter’s wreckage also immediately and start swimming to shore.
Shawn Winrich caught the crash on video, seen above. His footage shows the helicopter settling over the water and then suddenly dropping out of the sky turning over in the water.
According to records search with the Federal Aviation Administration, the helicopter is registered to Jeffrey Gebhard of Kailua, Hawaii. The aircraft is actually owned by Genesis Aviation; the company website says Genesis conducts helicopter tours over Oahu and that Gebhard started the business in 1999.
Based on audio captured by LiveATC.net, it appears as if things happened very quickly during those last moments of flight. Our thoughts and best wishes are with that young man and his loved ones, as well as everybody else aboard.
(Featured photo courtesy of Fox 5 NY)