Survivor recalls helicopter crash 'like it was yesterday'

Survivor recalls helicopter crash "like it was yesterday"

We often tell news stories about accidents or crashes when they happen, but seldom do we hear how those incidents affect victims years later.

A San Francisco area woman is speaking publicly for the first time - five years after her helicopter ride on Kauai ended in a crash landing. She lived to tell about it but still has haunting memories of that day.

Dania Hanson flashes back to that day in March 2007 with much clarity. "It's almost like it happened yesterday," says Hanson.

She and her boyfriend were on a dream, Hawaiian vacation when the tour helicopter they were riding in went into a tailspin and crashed at a campground on Kauai's north shore. You can still hear the emotion when she remembers her boyfriend. "He was laying on the ground on his side," she recalls, "and I was saying, 'Michael, talk to me. Talk to me, and he didn't. And I could tell by looking at him that he was basically gone."

Witnesses ran to help the victims, but Michael died six minutes after the accident. As rescue crews removed Hanson from the wreckage, she felt excruciating pain. It turned out, she had a broken hip, legs, ankles, pelvis - plus, damage to her kidney and heart. "I'm very fortunate that I survived it," Hanson says.

Before the crash, she had trouble walking because of nerve damage caused by cancer, but the crash made it permanent. Now, she has a hard time even standing, and five years later, the psychological effects have lasted, too.

Hanson says, "Almost every day, I think about it, and especially, if I hear helicopters go over, and I just look at them, and it takes me back inside."

It's taken half-a-decade for Hanson to talk publicly about the crash - a sign, perhaps, that through all the pain, she's also moving forward.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled a manufacturing defect in the chopper's tail section caused that crash.

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