NTSB: Pilot in Kaneohe Bay chopper crash lost consciousness twice during flight

The two passengers injured during the hard landing were celebrating their recent engagement.

NTSB: Pilot in Kaneohe Bay chopper crash lost consciousness twice during flight
A chopper crashed into Kaneohe Bay on Monday, leaving three people seriously injured.

KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - The pilot of a tour helicopter that crashed onto a Kaneohe Bay sandbar last month told investigators he lost consciousness twice during the flight and remembers being in a ‘dream-like state’ during the chopper’s descent, according to a preliminary NTSB accident report that was released Wednesday.

EMS officials say three people are in serious condition after a helicopter crashed into a Kaneohe Bay sandbar.
EMS officials say three people are in serious condition after a helicopter crashed into a Kaneohe Bay sandbar. (Hawaii News Now)
EMS officials say three people are in serious condition after a helicopter crashed into a Kaneohe Bay sandbar.
EMS officials say three people are in serious condition after a helicopter crashed into a Kaneohe Bay sandbar. (Hawaii News Now)

Two passengers — 35-year-old Carli McCounaghy and 31-year-old Adam Barnett, both of Illinois — suffered injuries when the Robinson R44 helicopter went down on October 22. Authorities say the 57-year-old pilot was also injured in the accident.

The report released Wednesday says the sightseeing tour originated at the Honolulu International Airport was originally scheduled to last 45-minutes and was billed as a ‘circle island route.’ But 20 minutes into the flight, according to a statement from the pilot, he felt himself lose consciousness.

“Moments later, he regained consciousness and control of the helicopter,” reads the NTSB report. “The pilot changed course from following along the coast to turning towards the coast, then prepared himself for a precautionary landing.”

Just seconds later, the pilot told investigators, he lost consciousness again. He remained unconsciousness until he was rescued by first responders.

The NTSB report corroborates statements from McCounaghy and Barnett in the hours after the flight, when they reported that the pilot had suffered some sort of health emergency.

“They did indicate that the pilot had some medical issues and they had to intervene,” said Jessica Lani Rich, of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, the day after the crash. “They thought that they were going to die as the helicopter was going down.”

With the pilot passed out and the helicopter diving, according to the report, McConaughy, who was in the front, grabbed the helicopter controls managed to ‘slow the descent’ of the helicopter before it crashed onto the sandbar.

The report also states that the pilot, who was accumulated nearly 1,500 flight hours in the type of helicopter he was piloting when he crashed, has not had any medical problems since being hired by the company in May.

The two passengers who were injured have since recovered and returned home to their homes just outside of Chicago.

This story will be updated.

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