Second Kauai Crash Investigation Begins - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Second Kauai Crash Investigation Begins

By Kristine Uyeno

KAUAI (KHNL) Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived on Kauai, to look into Sunday's deadly helicopter tour crash.

It was the second crash in three days.

The Kauai Police Department released the names of the victims. 60-year-old Michael Gershon of Walnut Creek, California, died.

The survivors are 60-year-old Dania Hansen of Los Altos, Calif., 60-year-old Douglas Barton and his 51-year-old wife Judy of Newport, N.H. And the pilot, 30-year-old Donald Torres.

Search teams looked for parts of the helicopter offshore. Witnesses say the tail rotor and its gear box fell off the aircraft before it crashed.

"An understanding of why the pieces may have broken, or failed, or were struck or what may have occurred," said Brian Rayner, lead investigator with the NTSB.

Off-duty firefighters and lifeguards helped. Crews recovered unidentified components. But the search was called off because of poor visibility. A salvage company is now taking over the search.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration says it's too early to take any action against the local helicopter companies. The two recent crashes involved two different companies and two different types of aircraft.

"Two fatal crashes in 3 days is absolutely a tragedy. But it does not by any means, indicate any upward trend in air tour accidents," said Ian Gregor, spokesman for the FAA.

NTSB officials are looking into the maintenance history of the Hughes 500, operated by Inter-Island Helicopters. They'll also visit the crash site on Tuesday, to search for clues to try to figure out what happened.

The pilot was treated and released. Hansen remains at Wilcox Hospital on Kauai. She's in surgery and doctors upgraded her condition to serious. Douglas and Judy Barton are being treated at The Queen's Medical Center. Judy Barton was updated to serious condition and her husband upgrade to fair condition.

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