HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Four people miraculously escaped injury Tuesday morning after a state-contracted helicopter crashed in Sacred Falls Valley on Oahu’s North Shore.
The FAA said the Hughes 369E chopper came down about 11:30 a.m. some 17 miles north of Honolulu.
Paramedics said the four on board the chopper ― a 42-year-old man, a 40-year-old man, a 39-year-old woman and a 34-year-old woman ― were evaluated at the scene.
All of them refused transport to a hospital.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources said the helicopter was being contracted by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife for field work.
In addition to the pilot, there was one state employee on board and two representatives from Pacific Rim Conservation, which conducts forestry work with the state.
The state said the team had just deployed seabird song meters in Kaluanui Natural Area Reserve as part of ongoing population studies when the chopper got into trouble.
Shortly after the return flight began, the helicopter experienced a loss of engine power.
The craft landed in a heavily-wooded gully, and photos showed the wreckage nearly upside down.
A spokesman for DLNR said the state employee credited the pilot with “extraordinary skill” for bringing the helicopter down quickly ― and without injuring anyone.
“They’re very lucky. That’s an understatement for sure,” said DLNR spokesman Dan Dennison.
“When it lands upside down and you lose both of the rotors, it’s just really a miracle and we’re so thankful that they all basically walked away from it," he said.
The helicopter, with tail number N593C, is registered to K&S Helicopters of Kailua-Kona. The company operates Paradise Helicopters.
Marigold Zoll, Oahu branch manager for the Division of Forestry of Wildlife, said the department follows a set of safety protocols, including “flight following,” which meant the incident was reported quickly. “We are thankful everyone walked away from this without injury,” she said.
This story will be updated.