HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The US Coast Guard Friday released the results of its investigation into a rescue helicopter crash last year that killed four crew members. The HH-65 Dolphin helicopter was performing rescue basket hoist training over the ocean south of Honolulu International Airport on September 4, 2008 when the accident occurred.
The training exercise involves the lowering and raising of a rescue basket suspended on a cable from the helicopter to a boat as the helicopter hovers above. Investigators say the cable went slack as the helicopter began to raise the basket and then became entangled on the boat as the boat dipped into the trough of a wave.
The cable then snapped and caused the helicopter to tilt drastically to one side, forcing the rotors of the copter into the hoist boom, damaging the rotors. The crew attempted to rectify the flight of the copter but began to experience abnormal vibrations. The Dolphin then began to issue "mayday" calls. The helicopter made it about two miles toward the shoreline when it experienced a complete loss of airworthiness and plunged into the ocean, sinking to a depth of 1,300 feet.
Capt. Thomas Nelson, Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Wischmeier, Petty Officer First Class David Skimin, and Petty Officer First Class Joshua Nichols were killed in the crash.
"We do very dangerous work, often in harsh environments," said Rear Adm. Manson Brown, Commander of the 14th Coast Guard District.