LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - All Monica Peterson wanted was to go home.
It was a message she repeated over and over as rescuers stayed
by her side Wednesday, praying the helicopter crash victim would
survive.
But hope had faded and, pinned between a rock and part of the
helicopter she had been aboard, she slipped away.
"She was holding my hand, but I could feel her grip
loosening," said Tim Stokesbary, one of the firefighters who
arrived at Peterson's side Wednesday after her tour helicopter
crashed into the side of Mount Waialele. "I finally had to radio
that we had lost her."
Peterson, of Denver, was one of five who died Wednesday after
Jack Harter Helicopters' Bell 206-B Jet Ranger crashed about 4,600
feet up the mountain. The others were her husband, Jeffrey, pilot
Mark Lundren, of Puhi, and James and Teresa Wadiak of Manassas, Va.
They all met a horrific end to a journey that began under much
different circumstances. The Petersons were marking their second
wedding anniversary. The other couple aboard the chopper, the
Wadiaks, were celebrating their 25th.
When rescuers finally reached the wreckage about three hours
after the crash, they found a helicopter split in half, the cabin
separated from the tail.
And then they heard the seemingly impossible: a voice. It was
Monica Peterson.
"She looked really hurt and I was shocked she was still
alive," said Stokesbary. "She knew she was in bad shape and I
kept telling her she was tough and she could hold on. She was
tough. Very tough."
Stokesbary and a colleague gave Monica oxygen, splinted her
legs, administered CPR, even ripped upholstery out of the chopper
and wrapped it around the woman to keep her warm.
But conditions changed by the moment, sources familiar with the
situation said. Winds and fog swirled around the firefighters and
clouds rolled in and dropped as much as 1,000 feet in a matter of
seconds.
Before the rescue helicopter was ever able to return, Monica was
dead.
"I kept praying for a window of sunlight so we could put her in
the basket and just get her out," said Stokesbary.
But in the nearly three hours he spent by Monica's side, the
moment never came.

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