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Tour Helicopter Crashes on Kauai

June 26, 1998

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) _ A helicopter showing tourists the sights of Kauai Island crashed Thursday on a mountainside, and at least five of the six people on board were believed killed, authorities said.

The helicopter belonging to Ohana Helicopters took off at 8:30 a.m. with five passengers and a pilot and was scheduled to return within 50 minutes. At about 11:30 a.m., Ohana reported the AeroStar AF-350 helicopter missing.

Helicopters from the Navy, Coast Guard, Kauai County Fire Department and Ohana participated in the search. A signal eventually was received from an emergency locator transmitter on the downed helicopter, Coast Guard spokesman David Santos said.

The search led to Mount Waialeale and some wreckage was seen at an elevation of about 2,000 feet shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Five bodies were seen inside the wreckage, KITV-TV said. Santos did not know the status of the sixth occupant nor whether all the helicopter wreckage was found.

Weather was believed to have been a factor in the crash. Mount Waialeale, where more than 440 inches of rain fall each year, is America’s wettest spot and it was rainy and foggy at the time of the flight.

The crash site is inaccessible by foot so rescuers will have to be flown in, Santos said.

It was the first fatal helicopter crash in Hawaii this year. Last year, three crashes killed four people, including a Kauai man flying a homemade copter.

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