Divers Recover Crucial Helicopter Parts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Divers Recover Crucial Helicopter Parts

By: Beth Hillyer

HA'ENA, KAUAI (KHNL) - Divers recover evidence that may help determine what caused Sunday's fatal chopper crash on Kauai. As KHNL first reported, witnesses saw sections of the helicopter flying off. The National Transportation Safety Board confirms the tail rotor, and gear box fell off the helicopter into the ocean likely causing the deadly spiral. It happened Sunday afternoon on Kauai's North Shore near Haena. That's just 9 miles from Princeville where Thursday's deadly helicopter crash took place.

Today we also learned the identities of the crash victims. Kauai police say 60-year-old Michael Gershon of Walnut Creek, California was the one person who died.

The survivors are, 60-year-old Dania Hansen of Los Altos, California; 60-year-old Douglas Barton and his 51-year-old wife Judy, of Newport, New Hampshire.

also surviving the crash is pilot 30-year-old Donald Torres.

Witnesses heard loud pops then saw pieces of the helicopter fall into the ocean. Today divers recovered some of the tail rotor.

It's a huge break to find the pieces that fell off and this will help investigators piece together what happened.

NTSB investigators from the HELI-USA crash were among the first on scene. Investigator Brian Rayner details his actions, "We interviewed witnesses, took pictures and document the position of controls."

A second NTSB investigative team will begin examining the Inter Island helicopter scene. In the Princeville crash there was only one eyewitness. In Sunday's crash there were dozens. Rayner adds, "Witnesses describe pieces departing the helicopter while still in flight over the ocean and two pieces fell into the ocean."

Divers found the crucial evidence they were looking for. "All of those components were recovered from the ocean by fire department divers" says Rayner.

Parts missing from the helicopter include the tail rotor, ourput shaft and gearbox.

Richard Schuman, tour company Makani Kai President, puts it in perspective, "It's impossible to steer a helicopter without a tail rotor, a tail rotor would be like front wheels of your car. They allow you to steer your car, a tail rotor allows you to have directional control of a helicopter and if you don't have directional control, your helicopter will start spinning."

Schuman believes pilot Donald Torres did the best he could, "That pilot did a tremendous job super job bringing that aircraft down."

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