By MATT SEDENSKY
Associated Press Writer
LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - A tour helicopter crashed Wednesday on the
Hawaiian island of Kauai, killing all five people on board,
including a woman who survived several hours as rescue crews tried
to get her off the cloud-covered mountainside, authorities said.
The woman and her male companion, another couple, and the pilot
of the Bell 206B helicopter died in the crash, said fire Battalion
Chief Mitchell Ikeda. No names were released.
The helicopter's wreckage was spotted around noon at about 4,300
feet on Mount Waialeale, authorities said. The chopper went down in
a crater on the peak's eastern face known as the rainiest spot on
earth.
Rescue personnel Wednesday afternoon tried to have the injured
survivor airlifted from the steep crash site, but clouds covered
the mountain and prevented an evacuation, officials said.
The FAA said the cause of the crash wasn't immediately known.
Officials from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board
were expected to arrive on Kauai as early as Wednesday afternoon to
investigate.
The helicopter was three hours late in returning from an
hour-long sightseeing trip on Kauai, which is west of Oahu in the
island chain, said Donn Walker, a spokesman for the Federal
Aviation Administration in Los Angeles. The chopper left Lihue,
about 110 miles northwest of Honolulu, at 8:03 a.m.
Walker said the pilot had been given a weather briefing from the
FAA, with no adverse conditions noted.
Officials said the aircraft, built in 1975, was owned by Jack
Harter Helicopters. The chopper service's ad in the Yellow Pages
says that it has a "perfect safety record."
The pilot was required to file a flight plan with the helicopter
service, but the company did not immediately say whether such
paperwork was received. No flight plan was required by the FAA.
It was the second fatal helicopter crash in Hawaii in six weeks.
On June 15, a sightseeing helicopter crashed on Hawaii's Big Island
near the Kilauea Volcano, killing four people.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)